Both Republicans and Democrats Will Spend Millions on NC-09 Special Election

The Associated Press
Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer via AP/ Chuck Burton

Republican and Democrat groups plan on spending millions of dollars in the September 10 special election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District.

The race pits Democrat Dan McCready against Republican State Senator Dan Bishop. The most recent poll shows the contest is tied within the statistical margin of error.

The seat has been empty since the 116th Congress convened in January. Former Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC-09) represented the district in the 115th Congress, but he was defeated in the May 2018 Republican primary by Dr. Mark Harris, who was initially declared the winner in the November 2108 general election in which he faced McCready.

“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,” as Breitbart News reported:

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.

Harris announced in February he would not run in the special election, “citing health concerns.”

In July, the Charlotte Observer reported that “[t]wo national Republican groups are pumping nearly $4 million into Dan Bishop’s 9th District congressional campaign, dramatically ramping up GOP spending and offsetting Democrat Dan McCready’s early fundraising edge.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched new TV and radio ads Wednesday. Politico reported the group has reserved $2.6 million in air time through the Sept. 10 special election.

And the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC tied to Republican House leadership, spent $1.2 million on ad reservations on Bishop’s behalf. Spokesman Calvin Moore called it the “initial part of our investment.”

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced it will spend $2 million on the special election.

McCready won the Democratic nomination in the May primary without a challenge, and Bishop easily won the Republican nomination:

Bishop’s 47 percent of the vote was well above the 30 percent required to avoid a runoff. Stony Rushing, the second place finisher in the field of nine, finished 28 points behind Bishop with 19 percent of the vote.

While the outcome of the general special election on September 10 will have no impact on the Democrats’ majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives—where they currently hold a 38-vote margin over Republicans—it will likely be seen as a bellwether indicator of how North Carolina, a key battleground state won by President Trump in 2016, will vote in the 2020 presidential election.

It also sets up clear ideological battle lines between the GOP’s Trump-supporting Bishop, who co-sponsored the controversial 2016 Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, more commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” which required public facilities to limit the usage of restrooms by gender, and Democrat McCready, a critic of Trump’s polices as well as Bishop’s traditional values agenda. The bill was partially repealed in 2017 after heavy pressure from large corporations and national organizations, like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which boycotted events in the Tar Heel State until the revised legislation was signed into law.

Earlier this month, Bishop released an ad attacking McCready as one of the “crazy clowns” in the Democrat party supporting a socialist agenda. You can watch the video here:

McCready has attacked Bishop for his sponsorship of the “bathroom bill” and his support of the Trump agenda.

Though the outcome of the September 10 special election will have no impact on the balance of power in the House of Representatives, where Democrats currently maintain a 235 to 197 majority (with one independent and two vacancies), it is expected to set the tone for the 2020 election, particularly in the key battleground state of North Carolina.

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