Monday, 25 February 2019 13:47

Who will, won't and might run for the 9th Congressional District in new election

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ROCKINGHAM — With the North Carolina Board of Elections calling for a new race for the 9th Congressional District, several questions remain.

One, of course, is: Who is going to run?

The new election, ordered after Republican Mark Harris withdrew Thursday following a hearing on election fraud, could require another primary for the political parties and the GOP is currently a free-for-all with no one yet willing to give a definite answer.

Jerry Austin, chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party, said that there are currently no potential candidates from here planning to run.

WSOC-TV reporter Joe Bruno was busy on Twitter Friday, asking various Republicans if they would throw their proverbial hats in the ring - including Harris.

“Mark Harris’ campaign manager tells me Harris will assess his health situation and make a decision on whether he will run for (the 9th District),” Bruno tweeted.

The Carolina Journal reported Thursday that Harris said had gone to the hospital last month with what he thought was bronchitis, developed an infection and had two strokes.

Clarence Goins Jr. of Fayetteville - the only candidate in last year’s race who wasn’t from Charlotte- told the Richmond Observer on Friday that he’s not saying he will and not saying he won’t run again.

“It is up in the air, most definitely,” Goins said.

Goins, who said he was following the hearing this week, received 5.24 percent of the vote in the 2018 Republican primary against Harris and incumbent Robert Pittenger.

Bruno said Pittenger had previously stated he would not run again, but when asked Friday, declined to comment.

According to Bruno, former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Riddenhour said he was giving a run serious consideration; and former state Rep. Andy Dulin said he wasn’t seriously considering to run, but wasn’t ruling it out.

Former governor Pat McCrory announced Monday that he would not run for the 9th District seat, but instead focus on deciding whether or not to run for governor again or run for U.S. Senate when Richard Burr retires.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Union County GOP Chairman Dan Berry is also considering entering the race.

The Charlotte Observer also reported Friday that Dan McCready, who unofficially lost to Harris by 905 votes before the state board failed to certify the results, kicked off his campaign.

State Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin told the RO that he hasn’t heard any rumblings of anyone planning to challenge McCready in the primary.

Libertarian Jeff Scott, who had been critical of McCready’s unwillingness to answer questions about policy, also told the RO on Friday that he will be in the running again.

While he’s hoping to draw some Republican voters, Scott said third-party candidates could see a better showing in the new election.

“If not now, when?” he asked. “If we can’t perform in this environment, maybe people are right- maybe there shouldn’t be third parties. Because of voters are so frustrated, they keep going to the same … poisoned well...eventually this is not going to end up at the ballot box, it’s going to end up in a very ugly situation.

“If only millionaires can bid for spots in the federal government, then we are really messed up,” Scott continued. “I expect to go to voters and I expect to be listened to with a little more focus and I expect to get harder questions, which I enjoy and expect to work twice as hard to get my name out there.”

Attempts to reach the Constitution and Green parties were unsuccessful.

However, there may not be another primary, which would leave those two parties out of the race.

According to the Carolina Journal, lawyers for McCready hinted that there could be a challenge to a law passed late last year by the General Assembly that would require a new primary, and instead the race could again be between Harris, McCready and Scott.