Republican Mark Harris announced on Tuesday he will not run in the special election ordered in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District last week by the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE), citing health concerns.
Harris received 905 more votes on election day, November 6, than his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, and was certified as the winner by the boards of elections in all eight counties that comprise the 9th Congressional District. The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, the state board as it was then constituted that had, at the time, the only legal authority to certify elections recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives, refused to certify Harris’s election on November 28.
A long and winding probe, centered on allegations of absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen County by Leslie McCrae Dowless, a long-time Democrat political operative hired by Harris’s campaign manager, came to a close last week after four days of hearings by the newly constituted NCSBE. After a day testifying before the NCSBE, Harris himself called for a new election, which the NCSBE officially ordered a few hours later.
“Given my health situation, the need to regain full strength, and the timing of this surgery the last week of March, I have decided not to file in the new election for Congressional District 9,” Harris said in a statement released by his campaign on Tuesday.
You can read the full statement here:
Over the last several days, I have had the privilege of hearing from so many people who have stood with us, cared for us, and who have asked how they can pray for us. In my response to them I have simply said to pray for wisdom and discernment as we make decisions concerning my health situation, the new election in Congressional District 9, and where we go from here.
After consulting with my physicians, there are several things that my health situation requires as a result of the extremely serious condition that I faced in mid-January. One of those is a necessary surgery that is now scheduled for the last week in March.
Given my health situation, the need to regain full strength, and the timing of this surgery the last week of March, I have decided not to file in the new election for Congressional District 9. While few things in my life have brought me more joy than getting to meet and know the people of this incredible part of North Carolina, and while I have been overwhelmed by the honor of their support for me as the Congressman-elect of NC-9, I owe it to Beth, my children and my six grandchildren to make the wisest decision for my health. I also owe it to the citizens of the Ninth District to have someone at full strength during the new campaign. It is my hope that in the upcoming primary, a solid conservative leader will emerge to articulate the critical issues that face our nation.
Over the course of campaigning in the district, I met and got to know one such leader, Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing. Stony, from my observation, along with his wife Anne-Marie, have served Union County effectively through the years. His background and his experience have proven him to stand firm on so many of the issues that concern us, including the issue of life, our national security, and religious freedom. I hope that those who have stood with me will strongly consider getting behind Stony Rushing.
Through the challenges of life, Beth and I continually place our trust in God, and we both know He holds the future in His Hands. Please stay engaged, for it is our civic duty to do so.
Again, it has been an honor to have your love, support, encouragement, and prayers each step of our journey together. Over the next few weeks as I continue to gain strength for surgery, I want to respect my family’s desire for privacy and I will not be doing interviews.
Harris’s Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, has announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination in the NC-09 special election.
The NCSBE is expected to announce the dates for the primary and general election shortly.