“All of the choices are bad, with a lot of innocent victims,” he told Spectrum News. Notably, he declined to say whether Harris would be a viable candidate in a new election if anyone on his campaign was aware of what Dowless was doing. Robin Hayes, the chairman of the North Carolina GOP, also said the allegation of early-vote sharing, if true, warranted a new election.
Read: The midterms could permanently change North Carolina
A spokesman for Phil Berger, the Senate president pro tempore and the state’s most powerful Republican, said Berger would support a new election if the facts warranted it. On Tuesday in Raleigh, legislators briefly considered a provision that would have required a fresh primary election if a new general election was ordered, though the measure was dropped. The fraud claims have raised new questions about the GOP primary, in which Harris upset Pittenger. Harris won a surprisingly high portion of Bladen absentee ballots in that race as well. Berger’s spokesman said the legislature believed that if the primary was tainted, as well as the general election, the NCSBE already had the power to order a new primary as well.
Democrats find themselves in the unusual position of agreeing with Republicans, at least on the big picture. On Tuesday, in the course of a press conference lambasting Harris for not answering questions about Dowless, the North Carolina Democratic Party chairman, Wayne Goodwin, also endorsed a new election.
“I welcome what appears to be a change of heart by the North Carolina Republican Party,” he said. “I do welcome them if the Republicans now believe a new general election is warranted. I believe that it is, based on all that I’ve seen and heard.”
In a video released last week, McCready withdrew his concession and called on Harris to explain what he knew about any fraud.
The NCSBE, as well as prosecutors in Wake County, home to Raleigh, is investigating fraud. The state board could still certify the election, even if it finds fraud, but can order a new election either because fraud might have affected the results or simply because it believes that fraud taints the legitimacy of a race. Even if the NCSBE certifies, the U.S. House has the final decision on whether to seat members. Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 leader of the incoming majority Democrats, has said Harris should not be seated until the facts are known.
Meanwhile, an early-winter snowstorm across the state has slowed but not stopped the flow of new information about fraud. Allegations have now spread to neighboring Robeson County, and there’s no telling whether more could be on the way.
Even before this race, there were allegations of fraud in Bladen County against candidates and operatives of both parties, and both Democrats and Republicans outside the county regarded it as a semi-lawless zone. Whatever effect election fraud might have had on the Harris-McCready race, it’s clear that the problem didn’t begin there.