(Reuters) – North Carolina Republican Mark Harris said on Tuesday that he would not stand in the US House of Representatives after holding a new election due to fears of corruption in the 2018 vote.
FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump, US President, greets Mark Harris, Republican Candidate of the Ninth Congressional District of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, USA, October 26, 2018. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque / Photo File
In an email, Harris cited health issues as the reason for not running for a seat that he had headed by 905 votes in the November 6 election. State officials however refused to certify Democrat winner Dan McCready because of allegations of irregularities in the vote.
Last week, the bipartisan electoral committee of North Carolina unanimously ordered a new vote in the 9th congressional district after hearing evidence that a Harris campaign agent had orchestrated a fraudulent scheme.
The board made its decision after Harris, who had spent months trying to defend himself, called new elections and acknowledged that the public had lost faith in its November result.
"I also owe it to the citizens of the ninth district to be able to count on a person in great shape during the new campaign," Harris said in the e-mail.
McCready plans to run again, though the date has not yet been set. The results of the last congressional race in 2018, which has not been settled, will not change the balance of power in the democratically controlled House of Representatives.
Harris, a pastor who beat incumbent Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger at a nearby primary, said last week that he was suffering from memory problems and had an infection last month leading to a sepsis and two strokes.
Harris's son told the election officials that he had warned his father against any illegal activity by one of his political agents, Leslie McCrae Dowless.
Months of increasing evidence of ballot fraud in the Harris campaign has become increasingly embarrassing for the Republican Party, which has accused Democrats of not encouraging individual electoral fraud during races. such as the 2016 presidential election.
In a statement Tuesday, North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said his party "fully supports" Harris' decision to withdraw from a renewed election. He said several candidates were considering the race, and "we do not doubt that a competitive candidate will emerge."
Report by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida and Colleen Jenkins; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool