Potential GOP primary candidates in 9th Congressional District

Potential GOP primary candidates in 9th Congressional District

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics will hold an evidentiary hearing on the results of the 9th Congressional District race on Jan. 11 after Republican Mark Harris narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, for the seat.

The hearing was originally supposed to be on or before Dec. 21. A spokesperson for the NCSBE said state investigators are still awaiting subpoenaed documents.

A location has not been determined.

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While a new primary and general election have not been called, people are preparing for the possibility with all of the controversial developments that have unfolded over the past two weeks.

If a new primary is held, all eyes will be on Harris but with his campaign swamped in controversy, it is likely he will have one or more challengers if he runs.

The first person people will look at is incumbent. Robert Pittenger. Pittenger, who narrowly lost to Harris in the primary, has not said whether he would run. The results of the race have been scrutinized since the NCSBE launched its investigation into the 9th Congressional District.

"Congressman Pittenger is focused on the terrorism and security forums he has planned for 2019 and is excited about the future," a spokesperson for Pittenger said in a statement. "Just last week, he hosted over 300 Members of Parliament from 80 countries for a Forum in D.C. and world leaders are actively engaging him about future events.
He is currently evaluating the latest 9th District news just like everyone else."

If Pittenger does not run, expect fresh faces to take a look at the seat.

Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour told Channel 9 Friday that he is considering running if Pittenger does not.

Ridenhour, like Democrat Dan McCready, is a former U.S. Marine. He is well-respected by Republicans and Democrats.

Another potential candidate is former Charlotte City Councilmen and Charlotte mayoral candidate Kenny Smith. Smith performed strongly in the Charlotte parts of the 9th Congressional District when he ran against Vi Lyles for mayor. Harris performed poorly in Mecklenburg County against McCready in the same areas. Smith is not saying whether he would run.

"I believe in the sanctity of elections," Smith told Channel 9 in a statement. "A fair election is the bedrock of our representative democracy.
"The 9th District race has turned into a media-feeding frenzy. Conditions on the ground change every four to six hours based on new reports. There are a lot of rumors swirling and I am not going to speculate on participation in a special election that has not been called."

Another potential candidate is former state Rep. Scott Stone. Stone told Channel 9 over text that he has not given it any consideration.

“Any potential consideration would likely be based on what Mark Harris would plan to do,” Stone said.

Other potential Republican candidates include former state Rep. Andy Dulin, former Gov. Pat McCrory and Union County Republican Party Chairman Dan Barry. Dulin, McCrory and Barry did not respond for comment.

Political expert Eric Heberlig said a special election would draw heavy interest from national donor groups. Heberlig warns that having a lot of Republicans in a primary may hurt them in the general.

“The risk of lots of Republican candidates involved is they are pulling on the same donor base,” Heberlig said. “They are using that money to attack each other. They come out of the primary wounded.”

McCready will likely have no legitimate primary opponent. McCready is already raising money and prominent national Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have issued calls for donations on his behalf. With no real primary challenger, McCready will be able to sit on the cash until the time is right.

Absentee ballot data

Channel 9 has been digging through records from the primary absentee ballot data.

We came across an address with 13 voters who requested absentee ballots.

It's an apartment unit with a maximum occupancy of nine.

We came across a similar scenario at another apartment, but no one from either apartment wanted to talk to us.

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