An election worker checks a voter's drivers license as North Carolina's controversial "Voter ID" law goes into effect for the state's presidential primary election at a polling place, March 15, 2016,  in Charlotte, N.C. 
Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters

Tainted by scandal, Republican bows out of NC’s do-over election


Late last week, North Carolina Board of Elections voted unanimously to do something with no modern American precedent: board members from both parties ordered a do-over election in the state’s 9th congressional district. The move was deemed necessary in the face of evidence that local Republicans engaged in a systemic and illegal election-fraud scheme, intended to send Mark Harris (R) to Congress.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Harris, tainted by scandal, would be the GOP’s candidate for the next election. Yesterday, the former far-right pastor answered the question: Harris isn’t running.

I’ve heard from some Democrats who saw the announcement as bittersweet: they were glad to see him walk away, but they also hoped he would run in the do-over race because it would likely help Dan McCready (D) win. Harris’ replacement is less likely to have played a role in the local mess.

That said, as he exited the stage, Harris threw his support yesterday behind Stony Rushing (R), a Union County commissioner. Who’s Stony Rushing? Sarah Jones took a closer look yesterday:

Rushing, a Republican and the owner of Take Aim Training Range, did not return emails sent to his government account and to an AOL address linked to his professional website by press time. But a Facebook page that appears to belong to him features weeks of posts denying any possibility of election fraud. (It also features multiple photos of Rushing dressed as Jefferson Davis “Boss” Hogg, a recurring character on The Dukes of Hazzard.)

As recently as Saturday, Rushing had decried the state board of elections’ fraud hearings…. In earlier posts, Rushing seems to suggest that fraud didn’t occur at all, and that NCSBE’s investigation was politically motivated.

Rushing is expected to be part of a multi-candidate primary, the date for which has not yet been set.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Republicans have had very little to say about the local GOP scheme to commit election fraud, though as Vox noted, the Senate’s top Republican weighed in on the subject yesterday.

During a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made a remarkably cynical effort to use election fraud in North Carolina as a political cudgel to attack Democrats.

McConnell tried to pin blame for absentee ballot fraud that allegedly helped Republican Mark Harris narrowly prevail in last November’s election in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District on Democrats, because Democrats don’t support voter ID laws. But what McConnell didn’t acknowledge is that voter ID laws like the one already on the books in North Carolina are powerless to stop the sort of election fraud in question.

Republican silence over the North Carolina scandal has been frustrating, but it’s far preferable to Mitch McConnell trying to blame Democrats in a way that didn’t make any sense.