Republican Fight To Hang On To Contested House Seat Unravels In Astonishing Fashion
This Isn’t A Case Of Voter Fraud, This Is A Case Of Election Fraud, Perpetrated Not By Voters, But Someone Hired By The Republican Candidate
- Mark Harris says he will not run whenever the election do-over occurs.
- McCrae Dowless was arrested and indicted on felony election fraud charges.
- As we predicted, but sooner than we expected, Republicans, in the form of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, blamed Democrats.
It’s the last House seat still without a certified winner in last year’s Midterm Elections, and it’ll stay that way for a while longer.
North Carolina Republican Mark Harris was ahead by around 900 votes over Democrat Dan McCready on election night, but then reports started coming out that an operative working for Harris illegally collected absentee ballots and requests for absentee ballots, and may filled some in and witnessed them himself (carefully using a different color ink), or thrown some of them out.
Harris asserted he did not know a man he hired to run his absentee ballot operation, named McCrae Dowless, was a practitioner of illegal tricks. And he testified under oath to that effect at a hearing before the North Carolina Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. At least at first he did.
Then Harris’ son John, who is an Assistant U.S. Attorney testified he’d warned his dad not to hire the guy because he was “shady” and it looked like he’d been he engaged in illegal practices before: during the Republican primary, many of the absentee ballots had been returned in batches, indicating someone might’ve illegally collected them. His opponent in the Republican primary had charged there was funny business going on. Investigators also produced emails between Mark Harris and his son, which discussed the topic. John Harris said he believed his father did not know that Dowless was acting illegally because the operative probably lied to him, and:
“I love my dad, and I love my mom.”
After that Harris said he’d misspoken. And then he said:
“I believe a new election should be called”.
That wish was shortly after granted by the Board of Elections, who we’re sure breathed a collective sigh of relief because they were let off the hook on a decision that was sure to get national attention and displease a lot of people regardless of which way they went. They set no new election date.
Harris and his lawyers explained his erratic statements by saying he’d recently had a life-threatening infection that triggered several strokes. That, and the fact that he’s now a tarnished candidate, left many observers wondering if he’ll even run in the new election.
At the same time, if Harris thought he was about to lose his appeal to the Board, calling for a new election would be the only strategically prudent thing to do: holding himself at least somewhat accountable for the wrongs done by his campaign. But also distancing himself by rising above it, giving him a shot at forgiveness from voters who might feel while his campaign was dirty, at least he wants to win clean.
Here’s a link to a beautifully comprehensive piece from the Raleigh News and Observer.
As we said when we first reported on this story right after the elections, even if Democrats do manage to win this seat after the new round of voting, Republicans may be the ultimate winners. Because they can twist this around and use it as a reason absentee ballots should be more highly scrutinized or curtailed. Which will be a huge area of effort for them in the next couple of years, after they were stunned by the number of votes for Democrats that came in through alternate voting methods.
Absentee voting used to break highly in favor of Republicans, which makes sense, because in the past, it was only really regularly used by older people, more of whom tend to vote Republican. But that all changed last year: with waves of absentee and mail-in ballots carrying many Democrats to victory, especially in California. The idea being a lot of those votes came from people who were comfortable with the convenience of new ways of voting, or were busy people who might not have had the day off, but still wanted to vote.