After a morning of tough testimony for Republican candidate Mark Harris Thursday, he abruptly called for a new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.
Harris said that he had been to the hospital on January 18 after suffering two strokes. He said he thought he would be strong enough to get through the hearing, but it was taking too much of a toll to testify. He added that the evidence was tainted and that the “public had lost faith” in the 9th District.
He then walked out of the hearing room.
GOP candidate Mark Harris calls for new election in North Carolina’s 9th District pic.twitter.com/o0Ia3KtnGR
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 21, 2019
Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, tweeted out his support for Harris:
Today I ask for everyone’s prayers for @MarkHarrisNC9 Today is a tremendously difficult day for his family, supporters and the entire @NCGOP We support our candidates decision in this matter. We will do everything we can to help the process and system improve in the future
— Dallas Woodhouse (@DallasWoodhouse) February 21, 2019
Harris had struggled to explain his relationship with political operative McCrae Dowless just before the break. Harris was presented with an email in which he alluded to Dowless’ prior absentee ballot plots and asked how he went from acknowledging concerns about Dowless’ tactics to saying he believed a characterization of him as a “good old boy” when he hired him just two years later.
Harris responded to the email, which was a forwarded article about supposed Democratic election tampering, by joking that McCrae didn’t like “Dems cutting into his business.”
He attributed the tone of his email during the hearing to the “bitterness” he felt at having lost the Republican primary in 2016. He lost said primary allegedly because Dowless rigged the absentee ballot votes in favor of one of his opponents.
Harris was also pushed on his relationship with his son, John Harris, who had provided damning testimony Wednesday alongside a paper trail showing that Mark Harris had disregarded warnings about Dowless’ schemes. Mark Harris ended up calling his son “a little judgmental with a taste of arrogance,” quickly adding that he loved him “with his whole heart.”
He ended the morning’s session on a weak note, saying that he took his son’s warnings as just “family conversations.”
Harris had an emotionally trying day during his son’s testimony Wednesday as well, moved to tears at the back of the hearing room.
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