NC Democrats, GOP launch more attacks as Harris-McCready race looks destined for court

Monday, December 31, 2018
NC Democrats, GOP launch more attacks as 9th district race looks destined for court
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NC Democrats, GOP launch more attacks as 9th district race looks destined for court

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- One day before the new year, there remains little hope for a resolution in the country's last undecided congressional race.

Wayne Goodwin, Chairman of North Carolina's Democratic Party, on Monday released perhaps his strongest statement yet related to the Ninth Congressional District controversy, accusing Republican leaders of "obstructing justice" who want to "quash the investigation" into alleged voter fraud.

"North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes and Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse are on a subpoena list to appear at a public hearing," Goodwin says, referring to a Jan. 11 hearing that was scheduled by the since-dismantled State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

"These Republican leaders are obstructing justice to quash the investigation and get out of revealing at a public hearing what they knew and when."

Woodhouse, for his part, lashed back at Goodwin warning on Twitter that the NC Democratic Party is "getting dangerously close to a damn defamation claim."

Democrat Dan McCready, the candidate who trails Republican Mark Harris in the 9th Congressional race, this weekend requested subpoenas for dozens of people - including Harris, Hayes, Woodhouse, and McRae Dowless, the political operative who is at the center of the allegations of harvesting absentee ballots.

Harris, meanwhile, last week petitioned for immediate certification so he can sworn-in with the rest of the 116th Congress in Washington on Jan. 3.

Attorneys for Mark Harris write "The State Board has failed to specifically outline any facts to support its decision not to certify the election results in the 9th District other than its references to 'irregularities.'"

Harris' petition, however, was relevant for only a few hours, as the nine-member State Board dissolved at noon on Dec. 28. The uncertainty surrounding its replacement, moreover, is another core controversy which also has an impact on McCready's request for subpoenas: who right now can be the legal entity to investigate the allegations, oversee the hearing, judge the evidence and rule either on certification or a new election?

Per court order -- and new state law -- North Carolina elections will soon be managed and safeguarded by a five-member Board of Elections and a separate Board of Ethics, with all members nominated by Governor Roy Cooper. That law, however, doesn't take effect until January 31st.

Gov. Cooper sent letters to state leaders of both Democrats and Republicans for names to be considered for a temporary five-member Board of Elections to continue the probe into how absentee ballots were gathered, but Republicans have been quick to denounce the effort as "unconstitutional" and proclaiming they won't be "bullied" into accepting nominations to an "interim" board.

The saga over the elections board dates back to 2016 when Republicans tried to reduce the governor's role in managing elections in a Special Legislative Session after Cooper's election win over incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory. Then Gov.-Elect Cooper sued and ultimately won in court -- many times -- and a GOP-sponsored constitutional amendment failed to keep the changes.

With Republicans now refusing to participate in an interim board, GOP leaders are signaling their gameplan for immediate action would take place in federal court, which could ultimately decide if the governor has the constitutional authority to nominate a temporary board. The court could also decide whether the state is failing to fulfill its duty and certify Harris' election win.