‘All we can do is present the truth and hope that the public won’t allow this race to be stolen…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) As North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District approaches its third week without representation, the state’s Republican leaders expressed confidence that their candidate, Mark Harris, had rightfully won the race and should be confirmed as soon as possible.
But they remained less certain on how to achieve that, with the pathways to resolution lying either in the control of the courts, the state’s Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper or the now Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives.
“All we can do is present the truth and hope that the public won’t allow this race to be stolen,” NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse told Liberty Headlines at a press conference in Charlotte on Tuesday.
In early December, when allegations first began to surface about McRae Dowless—a get-out-the-vote operative contracted by the Harris campaign in Bladen County who is alleged to have illegally harvested absentee ballots—both the Harris campaign and the NCGOP leadership acknowledged they were caught off-guard.
Harris’s opponent, Democrat Dan McCready, had conceded the election with no protest, and it was not until the race was due to be certified the week after Thanksgiving that Joshua Malcolm, a partisan member of the N.C. State Board of Elections, called on the board to withhold certification due to irregularities.
“I was sick to my stomach, saying ‘My God, how did this happen?'” said Woodhouse, who went on national media outlets like MSNBC publicly expressing support for a thorough investigation.
“We know now that it didn’t—this was a political setup,” Woodhouse said.
Elections Board Conspiracy
The GOP leaders point to frequent communication in the months leading up to the election between Malcolm and Jens Lutz, the former vice chairman of the Bladen County Board of Elections, who resigned during the fraud investigation. According to an audience member at the Charlotte event (unconfirmed by Liberty Headlines), Lutz was last seen at the Mexican border.
In addition to revealing Malcolm’s advance knowledge of the fraud concerns in Bladen, Lutz also had been a business partner of Dowless’s in a local political-consulting firm.
Woodhouse said Lutz may have been motivated to get back at Dowless after their partnership dissolved.
“Malcolm obviously conspired with Lutz to keep a local election protest from being filed” prior to the board certification, Woodhouse said.
As for Malcolm’s motive—along with many of the other prominent Democrats who were aware of ongoing fraud concerns before the election—“They clearly wanted to see who won,” Woodhouse said.
He noted that a possible conflict of interest arose from the fact that Malcolm’s daughter worked for the McCready campaign.
“You can shuck off any one of these things that’s kind of coincidence,” Woodhouse said, “but [if] you take the totality of the circumstances, you can’t” dismiss the evidence of malfeasance.
Both Woodhouse and NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes criticized the Democrats’ stall tactics, exploiting the vaguely worded provisions of the state election law that authorize the elections board to block any certification of an election where “taint” or “irregularities” are suspected.
“Any election would fall if you could just say ‘Someone somewhere did something,'” Woodhouse said. “We don’t think that’s the law. … The investigation can’t be justification for its own existence.”
They also said that despite being given the opportunity to investigate, Democrats, led by Malcolm, had attempted instead to turn the investigation into an indefinite fishing expedition.
“Under the Democrat rules, the investigation never ends,” said Hayes.
Out of Their Hands
Although the elections board initially had set its deadline to complete the investigation for late December, Malcolm unilaterally declared that it would be extended and the evidentiary hearing pushed back until Jan. 11—a week after the new Congressional term had started.
However, a bipartisan three-judge circuit court panel disagreed, and in late December it dissolved the elections board, which it said had unconstitutionally overstayed its own legal charter.
A new law takes effect at the end of January that will permit the governor to convene a new elections board under the advisement of the state legislature and the two major parties. But state Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union County, said beyond the General Assembly making its recommendations, it lay entirely within Cooper’s control whether to allow politics to continue to pervade the board.
“We all hope and wish and wait for him to not use the Board of Elections in a partisan manner and to seat someone he may disagree with politically” who could restore the board’s good-faith standing, Arp said.
“I hope the governor steps up and fulfills his constitutional duty. What is absolutely not tenable is leaving the voters of the 9th District” without representation in Congress, he said.
The board’s non-appointed staff has continued to investigate the election fraud matters even though the hearing for January was called off.
Should the matter return to the Board of Elections without Harris having been yet certified, the possibility still looms for a complete do-over of the election.
Republican legislators in Raleigh have debated whether that also should include a new GOP primary.
Meanwhile, the Harris campaign—citing past elections with similar circumstances where a local board refused to certify— has asked the court to step in once again.
Woodhouse said he was hopeful that this would resolve the matter before the elections board (which likely would include Malcolm as chairman again) reconvenes. “Based on the court’s precedent, they’ll certify,” he said.
Even so, other roadblocks stand in the way that could, once again, catch the GOP leaders off-guard. Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have indicated that they may yet refuse to seat Harris without first conducting their own investigation.
McCready’s team also has secured as a lead attorney Marc Elias, whose notorious work with contested elections has resulted in several high-stakes national GOP victories being overturned.
Elias first rose to prominence in the Minnesota election that gave Al Franken the Democrats’ 60th seat in the U.S. Senate in 2008, a filibuster-proof super-majority that paved the way for the unobstructed passage of legislation like Obamacare.
Elias also helped defend North Carolina’s Cooper in the 2016 gubernatorial race against Republican Pat McCrory’s accusations of widespread ballot fraud—which Malcolm at the same time motioned for the Board of Elections to dismiss.
Woodhouse said that the state GOP had been in communication with its national counterpart, but he signaled that no long-term strategy existed for defending the 9th District seat from the Left’s subversive maneuvers.
“We don’t play dirty like this,” Woodhouse said. “We think we won the election. We had the votes.”
Hayes said it posed a “difficult challenge” that Democrats had sought to “bury this under an avalanche of outside money.” But he commended the media’s work in shedding light on the corruption coming from the other side.
“The press has really dug into this to help to blunt” the efforts by Democrats both within and outside the state to steal an election, Hayes said.
Although the NCGOP leaders were adamant that Harris should be certified in the absence of clear evidence to overturn the initial result, they said they did not object to an investigation into the state’s election fraud troubles continuing after that.
However, Hayes said, “the investigation needs to follow a logical conclusion with defined, specific objectives and defined, transparent outcomes.”