9th district wide open as candidates ponder whether to run in new election

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Several candidates have announced their plans following the State Board of Elections' decision to call for a new election in the 9th Congressional District.

Immediately following the decision, Democrat Dan McCready reached out to supporters to ensure them he will run again.

In a message posted to Twitter, McCready wrote, "Today I was honored to stand with family and friends and announce my candidacy in the special election in North Carolina's 9th District. We've got a tough fight ahead of us, but together we can restore faith in our democracy."

In follow-up tweets, McCready thanked Democratic presidential candidates Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg for their support.

The Republican side is a bit less clear, as Mark Harris announced he will not run again, citing health issues. Harris said in a statement on Tuesday:

"Given my health situation, the need to regain full strength, and the timing of this surgery the last week of March, I have decided not to file in the new election for Congressional District 9. While few things in my life have brought me more joy than getting to meet and know the people of this incredible part of North Carolina, and while I have been overwhelmed by the honor of their support for me as the Congressman-elect of NC-9, I owe it to Beth, my children and my six grandchildren to make the wisest decision for my health. I also owe it to the citizens of the Ninth District to have someone at full strength during the new campaign. It is my hope that in the upcoming primary, a solid conservative leader will emerge to articulate the critical issues that face our nation."

The decision was supported by NC Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes.

Harris endorsed Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing as a candidate for the seat. Rushing is an NC State graduate who served as Union County Commissioner from 2002-2006, before running and winning again in 2014. Rushing was re-elected in 2018. Outside of politics, Rushing is an NRA Training Counselor and served as the Boy Scouts of America Union District Chairman from 2006-2009.

Former Rep. Robert Pittenger, who Mark Harris defeated in the 2018 primary, has declined to seek office.

Former Gov. Pat McCrory announced on his radio show that he would not seek the seat, but would consider a potential run for governor or senator in 2022. On Wednesday, McCrory interviewed Rushing on his radio show.

On Tuesday, Former Wake County Commissioner candidate David Blackwelder announced he would seek the seat. In a statement, Blackwelder wrote, "Today I announce my candidacy for the North Carolina Congressional 9th District - Republican. I am a life-long North Carolinian and Police Officer. I am just an average citizen who will fight for what's right and ensure all people are treated equally under the law. Join me today!"

Blackwelder is currently the President of the Wake County Chapter of the North Carolina Sheriff Police Alliance. While he does not live in the district, Blackwelder said he would move there should he win the election.

Former state Sen. Tommy Tucker said he is 95 percent sure he will run; Tucker served four terms before announcing his intent to retire. In December, Tucker was one of three Republican lawmakers to call on Gov. Roy Cooper to appoint a bipartisan task force to investigate the voting irregularities in the election. During that press conference, Tucker said, ""It makes me sick. We need to get to the bottom of this in a transparent and bipartisan way," saying any fraud is "unacceptable."

Former Mecklenburg County commissioner Mathew Ridenhour said he'll decide by next week whether he'll run.

The candidate filing period hasn't begun. The State Board of Elections will meet Monday to set the schedule for the new election, which will include filing-period dates.
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