Democrat withdraws concession in scandalous North Carolina race

Brenda Watkins
December 7, 2018

The move came as attention focused on Leslie McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County, North Carolina operative who was hired by a firm that got $400,000 from the Harris campaign. Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by about 900 votes, but results are not certified. His highest-paid consultant was OnMessage, $835,426. Two members of Dowless's own staff have said they collected absentee ballots at his behest, not knowing it was illegal.

"North Carolina doesn't allow ballot harvesting", he said.

The state Board of Elections has twice declined to certify the outcome in the 9th District and now plans to hold a hearing on it later this month, which means a brand new election may have to be held.

The state elections board has said it would hold a hearing by December 21.

North Carolina Democrat Dan McCready has withdrawn his concession in a congressional race amid a probe of alleged widespread voter fraud.

Dowless earned more than $23,000 working on six campaigns dating back to 2010, and in most of those races, Dowless' candidates received a disproportionately higher percentage of absentee votes in Bladen County.

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"We are not ready to call for a new election, yet, until the NCSBE completes the investigation or produces enough evidence that the votes/ballots in question would have changed the result or a substantial likelihood thereof", N.C. Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes wrote in a statement.

Nearly a month after Republican Mark Harris declared victory in his North Carolina race for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state's election board is declining to certify the result as it probes mail-in ballots from two rural counties that have been called into question. State investigators are on the ground in Bladen County talking to people involved with the potential election fraud scheme. The House Administration committee has "full investigative authority to determine the victor", she said.

A state election board spokesman confirmed Thursday that subpoenas seeking documents had been sent to the Harris campaign, the Red Dome Group, which worked for Harris, and the campaign committee of the sitting Bladen sheriff. If the board hasn't certified the results by January 3, when the new Congress is sworn in, any member can object to Harris being seated.

"Any member-elect can object to the seating, the swearing in, of another member-elect and we will see how that goes", she said.

'What we cannot have going forward from this point is an investigative and enforcement effort or process that has a partisan taint that could dramatically worsen the situation, ' said Sen. If true, the charges sharply contrast with those that Republicans have used to justify ballot restrictions around the country, said Myrna Perez, a voting-rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school. "This is against everything that we actively stand for", he said. Tommy Tucker of Union County.

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