Repub­li­can wins House seat, but Demo­crat puts up tough fight

Elec­tion seen as pre­cur­sor to Trump sup­port in 2020

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER

Repub­li­can Dan Bishop eked out a win in a spe­cial elec­tion Tues­day in a long­time GOP-lean­ing House dis­trict in North Carolina that had be­come a har­bin­ger for the 2020 gen­eral elec­tion.

The nar­row vic­tory pro­vided brag­ging rights for Pres­i­dent Trump but also a moral vic­tory for Democrats, who came close to flip­ping a dis­trict that has been in Repub­li­can hands for more than 50 years and where Mr. Trump had de­ci­sively bested Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton in 2016.

With 99% of the precincts re­port­ing, Mr. Bishop cap­tured 50.9% of the vote to Demo­crat Dan McCready’s 48.5%. The Repub­li­can’s mar­gin of vic­tory was 4,160 votes out of about 185,808 cast.

The two men had been in a neck-and-neck race head­ing into the elec­tion. Their closely watched race pit­ted Mr. Bishop’s pro-Trump cam­paign against Mr. McCready’s run as a mod­er­ate Demo­crat hop­ing to ride to Wash­ing­ton on an anti-Trump wave build­ing in the Char­lotte sub­urbs.

Mr. Trump took credit for the win.

“Dan Bishop was down 17 points 3 weeks ago. He then asked

me for help, we changed his strat­egy to­gether, and he ran a great race,” the pres­i­dent tweeted. “Big Rally last night. Now it looks like he is go­ing to win. @ CNN & @MSNBC are mov­ing their big stu­dio equip­ment and to tal­ent out. Stay tuned!”

The re­sults ended an elec­tion fraud saga that has left va­cant the state’s 9th Dis­trict seat since Congress con­vened in Jan­uary.

The spe­cial elec­tion was as much about Mr. Trump as Mr. Bishop, Mr. McCready or the two other can­di­dates on the bal­lot.

“My op­po­nent rep­re­sents the Nancy Pelosi choice and the El­iz­a­beth War­ren choice to­ward Green New Deal, sanc­tu­ary ci­ties, which she is specif­i­cally in fa­vor of. And ul­ti­mately so­cial­ism. More govern­ment dom­i­na­tion of ev­ery­thing. That’s the choice vot­ers have,” Mr. Bishop said ear­lier Tues­day on Fox News.

The dis­trict, which Repub­li­cans have held since 1963, stretches from the fi­nan­cial hub of Char­lotte and its af­flu­ent sub­urbs through ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties along the South Carolina line.

Mr. McCready found a trove of sup­port in the ci­ties and sub­urbs, where women and col­lege-ed­u­cated vot­ers are re­pulsed by Mr. Trump.

“I am a regis­tered Repub­li­can, but I am fed up with the agenda of the Repub­li­can Party,” Char­lotte sub­ur­ban voter Bob South­ern, 75, told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “I am so dis­ap­pointed in this pres­i­dent, and he fright­ens me very much.” He said he voted for Mr. McCready. The spe­cial elec­tion is a do-over of the 2018 midterm elec­tion in which the re­sults were thrown out be­cause of ab­sen­tee bal­lot fraud linked to the cam­paign of Repub­li­can Mark Har­ris.

The ini­tial count showed Mr. Har­ris beat­ing Mr. McCready by 905 votes out of more than 280,000 cast. The scan­dal and the elec­tion board in­ves­ti­ga­tion of bal­lot fraud dis­cour­aged Mr. Har­ris from run­ning again.

The spe­cial elec­tion at­tracted na­tional at­ten­tion be­cause Democrats and Repub­li­cans sought brag­ging rights for the first ma­jor test of the 2020 cy­cle.

Democrats des­per­ately wanted to show that Pres­i­dent Trump’s base had weak­ened in North Carolina, which is among the six most cru­cial bat­tle­ground states he won in 2016 and needs for his re­elec­tion bid. The oth­ers are Florida, Ge­or­gia, Michi­gan, Ohio and Penn­syl­va­nia.

Mr. Trump, who car­ried the 9th Dis­trict by about 12 per­cent­age points over Mrs. Clin­ton, made hold­ing the dis­trict a top pri­or­ity.

At a cam­paign rally Mon­day in Fayet­teville, Mr. Trump called Mr. Bishop an ally in the fight against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and what he called the so­cial­ist agenda of Democrats. He urged the crowd to use their votes to send a mes­sage to “the Amer­ica-hat­ing left.”

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence made a sur­prise visit Mon­day. He stopped at a pro-Bishop call cen­ter in Char­lotte and joined Mr. Bishop for lunch at a bar­be­cue restau­rant in Marshville.

Mr. Bishop gained na­tional promi­nence as the au­thor of the state’s “bath­room bill,” which re­quired peo­ple to use pub­lic re­strooms cor­re­spond­ing with their bi­o­log­i­cal sex. The 2016 law touched off protests and boy­cotts that were es­ti­mated to cost North Carolina nearly $4 bil­lion be­fore it was re­pealed a year later as part of a bi­par­ti­san deal.

He counted on the dis­trict’s rightlean­ing ten­den­cies and played strictly to the Repub­li­can base with a pro-Trump mes­sage. In a TV ad, he is promis­ing to fight “crazy lib­eral clowns” in Wash­ing­ton.

Mr. McCready, a Marine vet­eran, ran a re­play of the midterm race with a fo­cus on health care, the same mes­sage that helped get enough mod­er­ate Democrats elected last year to take con­trol of the House.

He avoided at­tacks on Mr. Trump that could have en­er­gized con­ser­va­tive vot­ers.

The po­lit­i­cal par­ties and out­side groups poured money into the race. ProRepub­li­can groups helped Mr. Bishop close a fundrais­ing gap. Mr. McCready raised more than $4.8 mil­lion for the race, com­pared with Mr. Bishop’s haul of less than $1.7 mil­lion.

Demo­cratic groups such as the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Ac­tion Fund’s su­per PAC and Stand Up Re­pub­lic, an anti-Trump su­per PAC, spent heav­ily on the race.

By Mon­day, the Na­tional Repub­li­can Con­gres­sional Com­mit­tee and other con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees had spent more than $6.8 mil­lion in sup­port of Mr. Bishop, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign fi­nance data com­piled by the po­lit­i­cal sta­tis­tics web­site FiveThir­tyEight.

Com­bin­ing can­di­date and out­side spend­ing, the pro-Bishop forces spent about $8.6 mil­lion and pro-McCready forces spent $8.4 mil­lion, the data showed.


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