CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - In stunning fashion Republican Mark Harris called for a new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Harris said it’s clear the public’s confidence in the election had been undermined and a new election was warranted.
Harris made the statement after admitting he was “incorrect” in his testimony to the board Thursday morning.
Harris was leading Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes in the election to become the 9th District’s next congressman.
It became apparent there were issues with Mark Harris’ testimony when his attorney David Freedman interrupted cross examination by McCready attorney Marc Elias to ask to speak with board members in closed session.
Earlier in the day North Carolina State Board of Elections attorney Josh Lawson asked Harris if he thought emails between him, his son John Harris, and his wife were going to be part of the hearing. Lawson followed up by asking Harris if he ever told anyone that he thought those emails would not be part of the hearing.
Harris said he did not recall specifically saying that.
On Wednesday John Harris testified that he had warned his father over the phone and in emails that he thought McCrae Dowless was illegally picking up voters’ absentee ballots. Mark Harris said that he went ahead and hired Dowless anyway. John Harris produced several emails in which he had expressed his concerns about his dad hiring Dowless.
Thursday morning, elections board attorneys made it clear that Harris campaign attorneys did not produce those emails between John Harris and Mark Harris during their original subpoena. The emails were only produced by Harris campaign attorneys after it became apparent John Harris was going to testify.
Friday questioning of Mark Harris and emails between him and his son led him to admit he made “incorrect” statements about whether he said the emails were going to be part of the hearing.
Mark Harris’ full statement is below.
It’s been brought to my attention that I talked to my son my younger son Matthew who I referenced earlier two nights ago about the fact that I did not think John’s emails would be part of this hearing. Obviously I was incorrect in my recollection and I whole-heartedly apologize to the board.
On January 18th I went to the hospital after battling what we thought was bronchitis I developed a severe infection that actually caused me to become septic. In the process of that illness I experienced two strokes from which I’m still recovering.
Though I thought I was ready to undergo the rigors of this hearing and am getting stronger, I clearly am not and I struggled this morning with both recall and confusion.
Neither I nor any of the leadership of my campaign were aware of or condone the improper activities that have been testified to in this hearing.
Through the testimony I’ve listened to over the past three days I believe a new election should be called. It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the 9th District’s seat general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted.