After months of news reports, we finally got a good look at the people in Bladen County involved in the election fraud in the 9th Congressional District. Most seemed unwitting participants in the scheme but they also indicated an effort to cover up their activities led by McCrae Dowless. So far, it’s been a fascinating look at a ploy to rig an election and testimony gave clear evidence that what they did was illegal. I had a bunch of thoughts as I watched the proceedings via twitter.
First, NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse keeps saying that the burden is on Dan McCready to prove that the fraud changed the outcome of an election he would have otherwise won. That’s false but the framing is hilarious. Essentially, the official Republican position is: “Sure, we cheated but unless you can prove we cheated enough, it doesn’t matter.”
This episode has laid bare the whole phony justification for their voter suppression schemes. They don’t care about voter fraud. They care about rigging elections. If they can do (that) through passing laws that make voting more difficult for people who disagree with them, that’s good. If they can do it through committing illegal acts and get away with it, that’s good, too. All those Republicans talking about protecting elections against are the real frauds.
Second, the operation down in Bladen County was a family affair and that the people involved cared about each other. McRae Dowless enlisted his step-daughter and his ex-wife to collect ballots for him. They clearly believed Dowless was trying to help them out. None of them seemed to be on firm economic footing and Dowless shared the wealth.
Bladen County is a part of old North Carolina where everybody knows everybody and people accept flaws and forgive past behaviors. McCrae Dowless almost certainly knew what he was doing was illegal. Still, people liked and respected him. He might have been out for himself but he helped ailing relatives, too. He’s probably a pretty good guy; he’s just not an honest one. People are complicated.
Dowless got paid more than $200,000 in 2018 for his work. Somebody on the campaigns that hired him certainly knew what was going on. Mark Harris should have known. If he didn’t, then he’s incompetent. If did, then he’s complicit. Had this been in the private sector instead of the political arena, Harris would have been canned as CEO a long time ago. In politics, the GOP is trying to elevate him to Congress.
We’ll learn more today but it’s hard to see how the election stands after the testimony yesterday. It’s also hard to see how anyone takes the GOP leadership seriously anymore. They told us election fraud was so serious, we needed to change the constitution of the state. Now, when it’s in full view they say it’s okay. Winning, as I’ve said, is the core value of the modern Republican Party.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant. Republished with permission from PoliticsNC.com.