News: Quick Takes

9th Congressional District: latest developments

Carolina Journal will post the most recent developments in the continuing dispute over the outcome of the 2018 race for North Carolina’s 9th U.S. Congressional District between Republican Rev. Mark Harris, Democrat Dan McCready, and Libertarian Jeff Scott. This story will be updated frequently.

For CJ’s full coverage of the 9th District controversy, visit here.

• Jan. 22: Judge Ridgeway denied Harris’ request for certification. Either the new State Board of Elections or the House of Representatives will make the next move. More here.

• Jan. 15: Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway announced the hearing will take place Jan. 22. The order is here.

• Jan 15: A state Republican Party news conference raises questions about links among former state elections board chairman Joshua Malcolm, former Bladen County elections board member Jens Lutz, and Democratic candidate Dan McCready. The N.C. GOP contends those links raise questions about an ongoing probe of 9th District absentee ballot irregularities. “These connections between McCready, Malcolm, and Lutz reveal that the entire legitimacy of the investigation is compromised,” said state Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse. “This smacks of a planned political hit job for revenge, and the more than 750,000 people in the Ninth and Dr. Mark Harris are paying for it as a result.”

• Jan 9: Not seated in the U.S. House of Representatives, Mark Harris responds in a news release as “congressman-elect” to President Trump’s nationally televised address on border security. The news release from the Harris campaign does not reference the ongoing 9th District election dispute.

• Jan 7: Two Republican state senators call on former state elections board chairman Joshua Malcolm to answer “serious questions” about his communications with a man closely connected to the central figure in the ongoing 9th District controversy. “WBTV reported that you and Mr. [Jens] Lutz had frequent contact leading up to and after the 2018 Election, even speaking on Election Day, including multiple text messages and phone calls between April and November of last year,” Sens. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, and Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston, wrote in a letter to Malcolm. “This information on its own of course does not reveal any improper activity, but given Mr. Lutz’s connection to Mr. [McCrae] Dowless and your previous public statements about absentee ballot fraud, it does invite questions.”

• Jan 5: Politico reports the Chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, plans to launch an investigation of the 9th District race if Harris is certified by the Superior Court.

• Jan. 3: WBTV reports frequent contact between former state elections board chairman Joshua Malcolm and former Bladen County elections board member Jens Lutz, both Democrats, around the time of the Nov. 6 election. Malcolm was the most outspoken opponent of certifying Harris on the state board. Lutz — who had some business dealings with McCrae Dowless, the focus of alleged ballot-harvesting — resigned from the Bladen County board in early December. Board spokesman Pat Gannon told WBTV’s Nick Oschner contact between county and state board members isn’t unusual.

• Jan. 3: Wake County Superior Court will hold a hearing on Mark Harris’ request for a writ ordering his win to be certified. Parties are to submit brief by Monday, Jan. 14. The court will announce the hearing date soon.

• Jan. 3: U.S. Reps. Patrick McHenry, R-1oth District, and G.K. Butterfield, D-1st District, speak to Spectrum News about resolution of the 9th District controversy. “This should be left up to the county boards of elections,” McHenry said. “I think it’s important that the State Board of Elections certify the election and that this majority in the House of Representatives seat Mark Harris.” “The House of Representatives does not want to inject itself in this process right now,” Butterfield said. “We want North Carolina to complete the investigation and certify a winner.”

• Jan. 3: Harris filed suit in Wake County Superior Court, demanding certification from the state elections board. His filing is here. Meantime, Harris was seen entering the elections board office this morning to speak with staff.

• Jan. 2: The Harris campaign says it will file a request Thursday in Wake County Superior Court to demand Harris’ certification as the winner of the 9th District race.  “The State Board of Elections has not disclosed any information to suggest that the votes in question in the Board staff’s investigation are sufficient in number to change the outcome of the 9th Congressional District election,” a statement from the Harris camp said. The campaign called for a thorough investigation of potential irregularities, but in the meantime, Harris should be certified and seated, the statement said.

• Jan. 2: In a press release, Gov. Roy Cooper says he won’t appoint any members to an interim elections board because NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes has refused to offer any nominees. Cooper says the GOP’s action will impede the 9th District investigation and prevent a proposed Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing by the board. GOP attorney John Lewis said Cooper’s proposed interim board is unconstitutional. The new State Board of Elections begins operating Jan. 31.

• Jan. 2: WSOC-TV’s Allison Latos confirms Harris will speak to state elections board staff Thursday, Jan. 3, the date members of the 116th Congress are sworn in to office.

• Jan. 2: Former Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, used his morning radio show on WBT in Charlotte to announce he had no interest in filing for the 9th District seat if a new election is ordered. McCrory backs Harris, who won the election by 905 votes in an unofficial count. McCrory also said he will decide this year whether he’ll run for governor in 2020 or U.S. Senate in 2022. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said he will retire in December 2021 at the end of his term.

• Dec. 31, 2018: Outgoing U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, who lost the 2018 Republican primary to Harris, said he would not file for the seat again if a new election with a new filing period is ordered.