Home / Politics / North Carolina GOP suddenly open to new election in fraud-marred House race—and here's why

North Carolina GOP suddenly open to new election in fraud-marred House race—and here's why

North Carolina Republican Party chair Dallas Woodhouse in 2014

With each subsequent story exposing allegations of election fraud in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District more damning than the last, the state Republican Party has now abruptly changed tunes on the need for a do-over—perhaps because, along with the NRCC, it reportedly was informed about potential wrongdoing in the area months ago.

North Carolina GOP chair Dallas Woodhouse had from the start been howling for the state Board of Elections to certify the results in the 9th District, which it twice voted against doing. On Thursday, though, he claimed he puked (yes, really) after watching CNN’s coverage of the scandal and said, “[W]e will absolutely support a new election” if the board “can show that this conceivably could have flipped the race.”

With these new remarks, Woodhouse has now boxed himself in, because there’s no question that the alleged fraud, which involved thousands of unreturned and mishandled absentee ballots, could “conceivably” have affected the outcome, given that Republican Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes.

Don’t imagine that Woodhouse’s newfound openness to a clean election is motivated by a genuine desire to right a wrong, though. According to the Washington Post, staffers for Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger, whom Harris ousted by just 828 votes in the GOP primary in May, informed officials with the state party and the NRCC that they suspected malfeasance just days after Pittenger lost. The reason? Because Harris won the absentee vote in Bladen County by a margin—437 to 17—so overwhelming as to be improbable. That’s exactly what happened in the general election, too.

If Woodhouse is feeling nauseous, it’s because he’s tapdancing so, so desperately:

In an interview this week, Woodhouse initially said he did not recall fielding complaints from Pittenger aides of possible fraud after the primary. But he called back a few moments later to say that he did remember hearing of anomalies—and took “a cursory look at the end of that race at the vote totals.”

Whoops! The NRCC also denies having heard about any problems, but as the Post notes, their regional political director for the southeast, Tyler Foote, was slated to become chief of staff for none other than … Mark Harris. We’ll see how long this denial stands up.

Meanwhile, McCready withdrew his concession on Thursday evening with an forceful shot at his opponent: “I didn’t serve overseas in the Marines to come home to NC and watch a criminal, bankrolled by my opponent, take away people’s very right to vote,” he tweeted, referring to McCrae Dowless, the Harris consultant at the center of the alleged absentee ballot fraud scheme. Added McCready, “[I] call on Mark Harris to end his silence and tell us exactly what he knew, and when.”

Democrats in Washington are also preparing to act. For the first time, Nancy Pelosi addressed the matter publicly on Thursday, noting that the House Administration Committee “will have full investigative authority to determine the winner of the election.” One member of that committee, Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, has already called for what he termed an “emergency hearing,” following incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s previous remarks that he plans to address the issue with the committee’s new chair. Everything will out soon enough, and it all points to a new election.

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