House Democrat on NC race: ‘Run everything over’
The highest-ranking black member of Congress called for an entirely new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, a sign of growing momentum for major action amid numerous reports of election fraud in the district.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and the incoming House majority whip, has made fair elections a central piece of his legislative career. He was unequivocal in what he thought should happen next in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready, which North Carolina’s state board of elections has declined to certify due to voting irregularities among mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties.
“North Carolina ought to run everything over,” Clyburn told McClatchy on Thursday. That includes a new primary with incumbent Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger. “Pittenger ought to be on the ballot.”
Harris had defeated Pittenger in the GOP primary, a race that likewise has drawn scrutiny over mail-in absentee vote totals in Bladen County.
Clyburn said he is “absolutely” opposed to seating Harris on Jan. 3, when Congress convenes.
“I’m not too sure we ought not to subpoena (him), Clyburn said of Harris. “We need to find out whether or not Harris was involved in these discussions, and if he was, he ought to be disqualified as a candidate. So it’s not just about having a new election. We need to look at whether this man ought to be standing for election in the first place.”
On Thursday, according to the Washington Post, McCready told TV station WSOC he was withdrawing his concession and accused Harris of bankrolling “criminal activity.”
The North Carolina Elections Board has subpoenaed the Harris campaign and Red Dome Group, a firm that worked for Harris. Red Dome Group said it hired McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County political operative, who is suspected of gathering mail-in absentee ballots.
Clyburn’s comments came after Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, the expected incoming speaker of the House, said a House committee could look into the election.
“House Administration Committee will have full investigative authority to determine the winner of the election,” Pelosi said.
The U.S. House can call for a new election, including primaries. It can also refuse to seat anyone.
Clyburn, the son of a minister, also questioned Harris’s integrity as a man of faith. Harris is the former pastor at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church.
“This guy is supposed to be a minister,” Clyburn said. “I don’t understand — evangelicals or whoever he may be — how they can advocate the way they do on moral grounds.”
Also Thursday, the executive director of the state’s Republican Party softened his demand that the race be certified.
“We will not oppose if the nonpartisan Board of Election investigators determine the outcome of the race was changed or there is a substantial likelihood it could have been,” Dallas Woodhouse told the News & Observer in a text.
He said the GOP backs the scenario “if the votes and/or ballots in question pass the numeric threshold that the race could have been changed (and) the CNN report is true that certain groups were targeted for systematic vote destruction.
“If they can show with certainty that the outcome could not have been changed, they need to certify Mr. Harris and continue to support all state and federal criminal investigations,” he said. “If they can show a substantial likelihood it could have changed the race then we fully would support a new election. If they hold a public hearing and simply can’t determine one way or the other then, we would not oppose a short delay on the question of certification until they have more answers.”