RALEIGH, N.C. — A Democratic North Carolina congressional candidate says he has raised more than $1.6 million in campaign funds for a special election that was forced after last year's race was voided by a ballot-collection scandal.
Dan McCready's campaign said Tuesday that the 9th District candidate also ended the year's first quarter with $1.46 million in cash on hand.
McCready had nearly $338,000 available at the end of 2018 after making new pleas to contributors in the midst of challenges against the November election's validity and raising more than $503,000, his campaign said last month in a Federal Elections Commission report.
"This is just one more sign of the incredible energy and momentum we're seeing on the ground as we head into the special election," McCready said in a prepared statement.
McCready plans to file a quarterly finance report with the FEC in the next week, campaign spokesman Aaron Simpson said.
A new election was ordered in February after state officials heard evidence that a political operative working for Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris in rural Bladen County illegally collected mail-in ballots. The operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, has since been charged with state crimes. His lawyer said he is innocent.
McCready is running unopposed in next month's Democratic primary. Ten Republicans are running to replace Harris as their party's nominee to face McCready.
Meanwhile, a political stalemate is complicating the upcoming elections to fill the still-vacant congressional seat. A Republican nominated last month to the Bladen County elections board won't take his seat, leaving local oversight of voting uncertain ahead of next month's GOP primary election in the 9th District.
Emery White was nominated by the state Republican Party, but his refusal leaves the five-member Bladen elections board with only two members, both of them Democrats - too few members to take actions like picking early-voting sites and counting absentee ballots.
White's decision follows complaints by state Republican Party officials after the state elections board wouldn't reappoint other Bladen elections board members who served last year. State officials decided a fresh start was needed after Dowless, who has deep ties in local politics, was reported to be illegally collecting mail-in ballots for years without local or state authorities stopping him.
State Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said that was an arbitrary decision.
"If any of my nominees are implicated in any wrongdoing that occurred in Bladen County, we will be the first to call for their resignation and replacement," Hayes wrote in a letter last month. "Sweeping the office of everyone with any experience on how to run an election, with knowledge as to what issues need to be addressed, and foresight as to what warning signs to look for is a recipe for allowing outside parties to compromise the election process."
Hayes last week relinquished his party activities to an interim manager until new party elections in June. He was indicted on federal charges that he tried to bribe the state's insurance commissioner on behalf of a wealthy donor and then lied to FBI agents.
Gov. Roy Cooper could break the logjam by appointing a third member as chair of the Bladen elections board. Cooper is expected to act this week, spokesman Ford Porter said.
In-person early voting in the congressional primaries starts April 25. Bladen County voters can cast ballots at the local elections board office during normal business hours, which is the minimum required by law.