After several days of testimony in front of the North Carolina Board of Elections, it has become painfully clear that Republican Mark Harris stole the 2018 election for NC's 9th District and at the absolute minimum, a new election must be called...and apparently Mark Harris is now entirely on board with that plan.
After months of insisting he knew of no illegal activity being done on behalf of his campaign, Republican Mark Harris, who leads the race for North Carolina's 9th congressional district, called Thursday for the State Board of Elections to hold a new election.
"Through the testimony I've listened to over the past three days I believe a new election should be called. It's become clear to me that the public's confidence in the 9th District seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted," said Harris.
It was a dramatic and humbling reversal for Harris, a pastor who until now has insisted that the board of elections should certify his 905 vote lead in the unofficial tally so that he can go off to Congress.
Four days of hearings had left that position increasingly untenable as witnesses detailed how an operative hired by Harris illegally handled absentee ballots, a felony in North Carolina. One witness said she filled in unmarked sections of ballots. Harris' own son testified on Wednesday that he had warned his father that the operative's tactics were likely illegal.
An email first released to the public on Thursday shows that Harris requested to the operative, McRae Dowless, in March 2017 after losing a primary election in which one of his opponents had hired Dowless.
The disclosure by the Harris campaign frustrated investigators, who were presented with the evidence only on Wednesday, despite a subpoena from the North Carolina State Board of Elections for the relevant documents months ago.
Although Harris has now called for a new election, the board will have to decide whether to actually call one. After Election Day, Harris held a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready in the unofficial ballot tally. The board declined to certify those results pending its investigation into an absentee ballot scheme that investigators have been unspooling for months.
The investigation focuses on Dowless, who was hired by Harris to run get-out-the-vote efforts in Bladen and Robeson counties. Dowless was also investigated in 2016 for his tactics, which a number of witnesses have testified included illegally collecting absentee ballots and filling out some of those ballots.
Harris has said publicly since the investigation began in December that he was unaware of any illegal acts that may have been done on behalf of his campaign. He reiterated that in his testimony Thursday.
Harris is now reduced to lamely trying to pretend this all wasn't his idea now that his son, himself a lawyers in the US attorney's office for Eastern NC, threw his own dad under the bus in a glorious effort to keep from being disbarred, but the new election is happening regardless. The Board voted unanimously that the election was tainted.
Harris believes he can walk away from this trainwreck and still be reelected. Too bad part of the testimony this week showed Harris's wife Beth texting Harris those illegally-gained previews of the absentee ballot totals.