N.C. GOP in­creas­ingly doubt­ful about le­git­i­macy of House race

Re­ports per­suade Demo­crat to take back con­ces­sion

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - REMEMBERING - In­for­ma­tion from The As­so­ci­ated Press was in­cluded in this re­port.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Repub­li­cans ex­pressed mount­ing doubts Thurs­day about a dis­puted con­gres­sional race that their can­di­date once seemed to have won, with one of the state party’s most in­flu­en­tial fig­ures say­ing a new elec­tion could be ap­pro­pri­ate in light of fraud al­le­ga­tions.

Law­mak­ers and strate­gists, ef­fec­tively aban­don­ing days of de­mands that state of­fi­cials swiftly cer­tify Mark Harris as the win­ner of the 9th Dis­trict, said they wor­ried that ab­sen­tee bal­lot fraud may have in­fected both the Novem­ber elec­tion and the Repub­li­can pri­mary, which the in­cum­bent, Robert M. Pit­tenger, lost in May. Pit­tenger has raised con­cerns about vot­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the dis­trict.

In Wash­ing­ton, Democrats will control the House begin­ning in Jan­uary. The likely House speaker, Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned again Thurs­day that Harris might not be seated when the new Congress con­venes.

“They should lay out their cards so ev­ery­one knows fact from fic­tion and fact from in­nu­endo,” said Dal­las Wood­house, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the North Carolina Repub­li­can Party.

“If they can state with cer­tainty that what­ever bad be­hav­ior that took place could not have changed the race, then they should cer­tify Mr. Harris. If they can state there was a sub­stan­tial like­li­hood that the race could have been al­tered, then we would not op­pose a new elec­tion.”

Mean­while Thurs­day, Dan McCready, the Demo­crat trail­ing in the 9th Dis­trict, with­drew his con­ces­sion.

Unof­fi­cial to­tals have Harris lead­ing McCready by 905 votes. But the state elec­tions board re­fused to cer­tify the re­sults last week be­cause of al­le­ga­tions of “ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and con­certed fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­i­ties” in­volv­ing ab­sen­tee bal­lots in the dis­trict.

The board is meet­ing later this month to hear ev­i­dence, but it’s un­clear whether the race will be set­tled then. The board could or­der a new elec­tion.

McCready ini­tially con­ceded the day af­ter the elec­tion, when Harris’ lead was less than 1,900 votes. The mar­gin was cut by half the next week, but he de­clined to seek a re­count.

He changed his mind with the ar­rival of the al­le­ga­tions, some of which have been linked to a man who worked for Harris’ chief strate­gist.

At is­sue is who can han­dle com­pleted bal­lots. North Carolina law al­lows only a fam­ily mem­ber or le­gal guardian to drop off ab­sen­tee bal­lots for a voter.



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