Bishop wins NC Dis­trict 9 GOP pri­mary to face Demo­crat McCready

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - jmor­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com BY JIM MORRILL

State Sen. Dan Bishop easily won Tues­day’s 9th Dis­trict Repub­li­can pri­mary, three months af­ter state of­fi­cials took the un­prece­dented step of throw­ing out a 2018 elec­tion marred by fraud al­le­ga­tions.

Bishop will face Demo­crat Dan McCready and two third­party can­di­dates on Sept. 10 in what’s ex­pected to be the na­tion’s most closely watched spe­cial elec­tion.

With 93% of votes in, Bishop de­feated Union County Com­mis­sioner Stony Rush­ing 48% to 20%. Among 10 can­di­dates, for­mer Meck­len­burg County Com­mis­sioer Matthew Ri­den­hour was the only other one in dou­ble fig­ures, with 17%.

“Dan McCready went through two elec­tions without telling any­one where he stood on any­thing — that ends to­mor­row,” a ju­bi­lant Bishop told sup­port­ers Tues­day night. “Vot­ers in the 9th Dis­trict de­serve a clear choice in this race, and we’re go­ing to give them one.”

As he had through­out the cam­paign, Bishop de­cried the “lib­eral crazy clowns” in Wash­ing­ton. He de­scribed their agenda as “so­cial­ism, open borders (and) in­fan­ti­cide.”

In a state­ment, the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee sig­naled its own at­tacks against Bishop: As the ar­chi­tect of House Bill 2, the

so-called “bath­room bill,” and the heir to what it called Repub­li­can elec­tion fraud.

State of­fi­cials or­dered the spe­cial elec­tion af­ter al­le­ga­tions of absentee elec­tion fraud in the 2018 elec­tion be­tween McCready and Repub­li­can Mark Har­ris. Five peo­ple have been ar­rested on charges re­lat­ing to the al­leged fraud.

In vic­tory, Bishop car­ried all of the dis­trict’s eight coun­ties, in­clud­ing Rush­ing’s home of Union.

Turnout was low. Fewer than 10% of vot­ers cast bal­lots across the dis­trict that runs from Char­lotte to Bladen County.

The GOP pri­mary drew more than $ 1.4 mil­lion in spend­ing by out­side groups. About $ 1.3 mil­lion of that came from the Na­tional Re­al­tors As­so­ci­a­tion po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee in sup­port of Leigh Brown, a Cabar­rus County Real­tor and the PAC’s for­mer fundrais­ing chair.

The po­lit­i­cal arm of the anti-tax Club for Growth, mean­while, spent more than $ 138,000 against Brown and Rush­ing. A spokesman said the group also “bun­dled” more than $84,000 in con­tri­bu­tions for Bishop.

Bishop raised more than any other can­di­date, $572,000. That was twice as much as Brown and seven times as much as any other can­di­date.

Al­most all the can­di­dates have run as strong sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Bishop, a two-term se­na­tor and for­mer county com­mis­sioner, de­scribed him­self as “bat­tle tested” and the best can­di­date to op­pose McCready, who didn’t face a pri­mary op­po­nent.

“In the age of Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, so­cial­ism and per­haps in­fan­ti­cide, you need to send a war­rior to Wash­ing­ton, D.C.,” he said at one fo­rum. “Some­one who can fight with a smile on his face.”

Ri­vals said his spon­sor­ship of HB2 — the law that re­quired peo­ple to use the bath­rooms of the gen­der on their birth cer­tifi­cate in pub­lic build­ings — would hurt in a gen­eral elec­tion. The law led to boy­cotts of the state by busi­nesses, en­ter­tain­ers and col­lege and pro sports events. At one de­bate, Brown said HB2 “fright­ens off un­af­fil­i­at­eds and con­ser­va­tive Democrats.”

Bishop con­sis­tently dis­missed the sug­ges­tion. “I think peo­ple are ready to move on,” he told one au­di­ence. “There are new is­sues . . . There’s a fas­ci­na­tion with the me­dia about it.”

Rush­ing ran with the en­dorse­ment of Har­ris, who had de­clined to run again cit­ing health con­cerns. His Fe­bru­ary an­nounce­ment came five days af­ter the State Board of Elec­tions ended a hear­ing into the elec­tion fraud al­le­ga­tions by call­ing for a new elec­tion. Har­ris, who led McCready by 905 votes on Elec­tion Day, had re­versed him­self and called for a new vote.

Ri­den­hour, a for­mer Meck­len­burg County com­mis­sioner, cast him­self as the best can­di­date to op­pose McCready, a for­mer Ma­rine. “It takes a Ma­rine to beat a Ma­rine,” he said.

State elec­tions of­fi­cials dealt with a glitch on Tues­day when absentee bal­lots in some coun­ties went out with la­bels that ap­peared to sug­gest any­body could col­lect the fin­ished bal­lots and drop them off.

It was “bal­lot har­vest­ing” in Bladen County that led to what elec­tion of­fi­cials called “a co­or­di­nated, un­law­ful ... absentee bal­lot scheme” in the dis­trict. The cor­rect la­bels said only if a voter has a dis­abil­ity could some­one de­liver their bal­lot.

Elec­tion of­fi­cials said de­spite the glitch, there’s no ev­i­dence of bal­lot fraud. State board spokesman Patrick Gan­non said the board’s Fe­bru­ary hear­ing and sub­se­quent ar­rests “should serve as a very strong de­ter­rent to any­one who might con­sider com­mit­ting fraud in this elec­tion.”

JOHN D. SIMMONS jsim­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Dan Bishop gets a hug from his son, Jack Bishop, af­ter he ad­dressed sup­port­ers Tues­day night. Bishop easily won Tues­day’s 9th Dis­trict Repub­li­can pri­mary, three months af­ter state of­fi­cials took the un­prece­dented step of throw­ing out a 2018 elec­tion marred by fraud al­le­ga­tions. Turnout was low. Fewer than 10% of vot­ers cast bal­lots across the dis­trict that runs from Char­lotte to Bladen County.

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