The Lingering Complications in North Carolina's New Election

Mark Harris may not be off the 9th District ballot just yet.

North Carolina 9th district Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris, with his wife Beth, claims victory in his congressional race in Monroe, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Ally Mutnick
Feb. 28, 2019, 10:10 a.m.

Republican Mark Harris wants out of the still-unscheduled new election in North Carolina's 9th District, but it might not be that simple.

Facing a Republican damaged by an election fraud scandal would have obvious upside for Democrat Dan McCready in the GOP-leaning district. He and his legal team have left open the possibility of challenging the state law passed in December that would require a new primary in a redo election.

One argument they could deliver is that the May 2018 primary results were already certified, which retired state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, a Republican, noted in an op-ed late last year. The new legislation would retroactively decertify the primaries, which could be considered ex post facto law.

They could also make the case that the amended law allows for a new primary—but not new candidates. The current statute mandates that in a new race called by the State Board of Elections all candidates "listed on the official ballot in the original election shall be listed in the same order on the official ballot for the new election," except if a candidate dies or becomes ineligible. Under this interpretation, the GOP primary could turn into another race between Harris and former Rep. Robert Pittenger, a fascinating matchup considering both have said they don't intend to run.

Stay tuned. The board will likely address all of these issues at a hearing Monday to set the election calendar.

-- Ally Mutnick


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