After nearly four days of grueling testimony, Republican Mark Harris is calling for a new election amid allegations of fraudulent activity benefiting his campaign for Congress.
The announcement Thursday is a stark reversal from his previous stance on the race. Harris, a pastor from Charlotte, had been pressuring the State Board of Elections to certify his victory over Democrat Dan McCready.
Harris himself had taken the witness stand on Thursday, a day after his son was grilled by state investigators. A photo shows Harris weeping while his son testified. While calling for a new election, Harris also said he was no longer able for testifying further. Harris was hospitalized in January for a serious infection in his bloodstream. The pastor said he believed he would be healthy enough to testify fully, but no longer felt up to it.
The decision will likely ease the resolution of the investigation into absentee-by-mail election fraud alleged in Bladen and Robeson counties. The State Board of Elections has been holding a hearing into the matter all week.
However, the elections board must still complete its hearing and make a decision. It takes four members of the five-member board to order a new election. There’s a 3-2 Democrat/Republican split on the board.
Harris’s pronouncement gives the Republican members cover to order a new election.
If a new election is held, Harris would be able to run again — but would likely face a tough primary challenge.