Court Rules Against Mark Harris in Unresolved North Carolina House Race

Harris had sought Wake County court to certify election results that are under investigation

GOP congressional candidate Mark Harris speaks as President Donald Trump and Republican Rep. Ted Budd listen during a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., in October. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images file photo)
GOP congressional candidate Mark Harris speaks as President Donald Trump and Republican Rep. Ted Budd listen during a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., in October. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images file photo)
Posted January 22, 2019 at 1:41pm

It’s been more than two months since the midterms, but the election in North Carolina’s 9th District is still unresolved. And a hearing in Wake County Tuesday did not bring it any closer to resolution, with a judge declining to force certification of the election on behalf of Republican Mark Harris.

Harris, who led by 905 votes in the wake of the November election, had requested that Wake County Superior Court Jude Paul Ridgeway intervene to declare him the winner, despite a pending state investigation into the contest, which has been marred by allegations of election fraud.

Tuesday’s hearing brought Democratic lawyer Marc Elias to the Tar Heel State to represent Democratic nominee Dan McCready, whose team argued that Harris hadn’t satisfied the requirements for the court to step in and force certification of the election. The State Board of Elections had filed paperwork arguing that certification was up to them, not the court.

The state board’s evidentiary hearing has been delayed because the board itself was disbanded. A new board is expected to be in place on Jan. 31.

McCready withdrew his concession in the race late last year after The Associated Press retracted its call for Harris, and the state board has been investigating allegations that a contractor for the Harris campaign tampered with absentee ballots.

After hearing arguments Tuesday morning, the judge called for a 20-minute break and returned shortly thereafter with his decision. He concluded that certification of the election wasn’t “appropriate” until the board completed its investigation and that the petitioner (Harris) “did not show a clear right” for a writ of mandamus — an order from the court that would have directed the state board to certify the election. 

Even if the court had ruled in Harris’ favor, the Democrat-controlled House has said it wouldn’t seat him in the new Congress.

So the uncertainty continues, with all eyes now awaiting the actions of a new state board of elections.

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