The Republican pastor whose campaign was accused of election fraud in North Carolina won’t run in a new election as Mitch McConnell tries to lay blame on Democrats

  • Republican Mark Harris announced he would not run in a special election for a North Carolina congressional seat after his campaign was accused of financing an election fraud scheme in last November’s election.
  • This comes five days after the state Board of Elections voted unanimously to hold a new election in the contested district.
  • Harris cited health concerns in a Tuesday statement and endorsed Republican Stony Rushing, a county commissioner, to run against Democrat Dan McCready, who has announced he’ll run again.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the alleged fraud in North Carolina should be blamed on Democrats, who have fought GOP efforts to implement stricter voter ID laws.

Republican Mark Harris announced he would not run in a special election for a North Carolina congressional seat after his campaign was accused of financing an election fraud scheme in last November’s election.

This comes five days after the state Board of Elections voted unanimously to hold a new election in the contested district.

Harris unexpectedly called for a new election last week after four days of emotional testimony during an evidentiary hearing that heard from witnesses and officials. State elections director Kim Strach said the evidence presented showed a “coordinated, unlawful, and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme” orchestrated by a political operative hired by Harris helped swing the close race in the Republican’s favor.

Harris cited health concerns in a Tuesday statement and endorsed Republican Stony Rushing, a county commissioner.

“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,” said Harris, who suffered from a blood infection and two strokes in January.

Read more: North Carolina officials order a new congressional election after 4 wild days of hearings over an alleged voter fraud scheme

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin argued that the fraud allegations would hurt Rushing’s chances against Democrat Dan McCready, who has announced he’ll run again.

“Mark Harris may have seen the writing on the wall but that won’t save the eventual Republican nominee from being tainted by the Republican Party’s efforts to steal an election,” Goodwin said a statement Tuesday.

Shortly before Harris’ announcement on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that the alleged fraud in North Carolina should be blamed on Democrats, who have fought GOP efforts to implement stricter voter ID laws. One such North Carolina law was struck down in federal court as racially discriminatory.

McConnell attempted to spin the issue as “voter fraud,” when in fact the issue was an alleged election fraud scheme in which a contractor for Harris’ campaign collected and altered absentee ballots, according to witnesses and officials at the evidentiary hearing.

“For years and years, every Republican who dared to call for common-sense safeguards for Americans’ ballots was demonized by Democrats and their allies,” McConnell said. “We were hit with left-wing talking points insisting that voter fraud wasn’t real.”

McConnell went on, “Now that an incident of very real voter fraud has become national news and the Republican candidate seems – seems – to have benefited, these long-standing Democratic talking points have been really quiet.”

McCready called McConnell’s comments “shameful but not surprising.”

“The fact is that a bipartisan board decided 5-0 that what happened in North Carolina was election fraud, not voter fraud, and it was the voters who paid the price,” McCready said in a statement.