This story was originally published in December when the specter of a special election first arose. It was updated when the State Board of Elections officially declared that a new election would be held.
It’s official. The State Board of Election has declared that North Carolina needs to hold a new election in the 9th Congressional District as evidence of absentee-by-mail ballot fraud tainted the results.
Republican Mark Harris had won a 900-vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready in the unofficial results. But on Thursday, after four grueling days of testimony in Raleigh, he announced that he, too, would like to see a special election.
Harris will be able to run again in the special election. But he would likely have a tough time, and not just because of the fraud scandal. He’s also in poor health, hospitalized in January for a blood infection and suffering several strokes.
There will be no shortage of strong candidates looking to fill the 9th Congressional District seat. Here are the frontrunners.
The former Charlotte city councilman raised a lot of money for his unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2017. Chances are he’d be able to raise even more for a U.S. House seat, and raise it in a hurry.
Smith has crossover appeal in the urban part of the district and conservative bona fides that would likely help him in Union County and beyond.
The path to victory in a Republican primary runs through Union County, and the head of the county GOP would have a distinct advantage. With former Congressional candidate Todd Johnson newly elected to the N.C. Senate, Barry would be the top contender from Union County.
Barry ran for the seat in 2012 in the Republican primary ultimately carried by Pittenger, so he’s no stranger to the district or this race.
The former Mecklenburg County commissioner has carved out a reputation as a thoughtful, pragmatic leader who garners bipartisan praise. That would serve him well in a general election for the 9th District. Ridenhour formerly served in the U.S. Marines as well, setting up an extremely compelling matchup against fellow Marine McCready.
The former state Senator from Union County is reportedly considering a bid after declining to run for re-election to the General Assembly in 2018. Union County is key to winning the seat, and even more important for a primary election.
On the Democratic side, there are no real contenders in a special election except this year’s candidate. McCready would also enter the race as the wronged party, and he handled his early (tainted) loss with grace. He already had massive appeal on both sides of the aisle and would be formidable in a special election.
McCready has also continued to raise gobs of money while the investigation has gone on.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger
The most recent Congressman in this seat would normally be the presumptive favorite on the Republican side. Pittenger lost the primary in May by only a few hundred votes in a race that’s also been called into question.
However, he’s already publicly said he would not run again. This doesn’t bind him, and he could change his mind.
As a former member of Congress, he has a built-in campaign infrastructure and the ability to raise a large amount of money quickly. He also would enter the race as a wronged party with some sympathy.
- Mark Harris
- Sen. Danny Britt, a Republican from Robeson County.
- Pat McCrory, though he’s said he will not run.
- Scott Stone, who most recently served in the N.C. House.
- Jeff Scott, the Libertarian candidate who picked up 5,000 votes the first go-round and is likely to run again.