Dani Pinkus

All things feminism, funny, and fabulous.

Open Seating: Why You Should Care About NC 9

Open Seating: Why You Should Care About NC 9

In a moment we once thought was fleeting, the Trumpian world can often feel like it’s caving in. Our greatest hope is the upcoming presidential election, where we have the opportunity to put our vote where our conscience is. But before all of that, there is one upcoming special election that has the chance to strengthen the Blue Team.

Last November, North Carolina’s Ninth District fraudulently elected Mark Harris. The representative-elect is an evangelical minister from Charlotte, ready to assume a red seat in a red state that has maintained the 9th district since 1963.

Harris ran on a “new approach” religious platform with a pastor to politician story, and serious MAGA inspiration. His Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, reminded supporters of his Marine vet status and “country over party” attitude, promising to work with both sides to make this work. He is pro-choice and supports same-sex marriage - unlike Harris and Rep. Robert Pittenger, who occupied this district since 1993.

Despite the seat’s historic roots, McCready was a serious opponent going into the general election. He was ultimately defeated by a narrow margin of just 905 votes.

To put it in perspective, Democratic Rep. Katie Hill won California’s 25th district by 4,000 votes in the 2018 general election. The Republican incumbent, Steve Knight, served two terms in an also rooted red town dating back to 1993.

  • CA 25 - Population: 714,313 White: 45.8%

  • NC 9 - Population: 778,477 White: 65.5%

NC 9 is a dramatized reflection of CA 25, making the 905 lead look measly next to Hill’s 4,000 in a comparable Republican territory.

There are thirteen districts in North Carolina. Eight seats are occupied by Republicans and only three by Democrats. Rep. Walter Jones, who held a ninth seat since 1995, passed away in February, opening the 3rd district. A special election has been set for July 9th, with a hefty crew of Republican candidates gearing up for expected success.

The Ninth District is another story. After beating Rep. Robert Pittenger, Mark Harris hired Leslie McCrae Dowless, a seasoned political operative and well-known community member, to help him achieve continued Republican success for the 9th.

Harris’ victory was brief, immediately garnering attention for the slight win, particularly in Bladen County, where Dowless personally turned in almost half of the absentee ballots. Dowless is now being charged for orchestrating the forgery of mail-in ballots, specifically having illegally collected, filled in, signed, and submitted ballots on the Harris campaign’s behalf.

In February, a four-day hearing was held before the State Board of Elections in which many witnesses spoke out against Dowless. Harris claimed not to have any knowledge of Dowless’ bad behavior - a claim all too odd with a shady past dating back to the 90s, including having served part of a two-year jail sentence for illegally collecting insurance money from a dead man.

Further truth of Harris’ involvement came out when his own son testified against the campaign, insisting that he had warned his father of Dowless’ past, specifically in regard to illegal tactics in the previous election.

Despite his consistent plea of ignorance, Harris acknowledged that a new election was necessary at the conclusion of the hearings. The board voted unanimously for the redo. Dowless was arrested following the February hearings, charged with obstruction of justice in relation to the 2016 and 2018 elections. After a new date was announced in March, Harris officially bowed out, crediting the decision to health complications.

Dan McCready is ready to take on a new opponent and earn the privilege to represent North Carolina’s Ninth District. But just because Harris is out, doesn’t make McCready a shoo-in.

The Republican party is committed to regaining the seat, especially in mind of this embarrassment and the likelihood of Democratic success had there been a clean race. Should McCready’s supporters remain faithful, a victory for Dems is a huge possibility. During the 2016 presidential election, Bladen County voted 44.6% for Hillary Rodham Clinton - one of the most Democratic-leaning districts in the state.

Across the line, Harris has endorsed Republican candidate Stony Rushing, a self-proclaimed “true conservative leader” who believes in protecting the 2nd amendment and is irreverently pro-life. This candidate would be the consistent choice for NC 9 and North Carolina as a whole, reflecting the historical values of this district and state.

Optimistically, and as proven by McCready’s supporters in 2018, the Dems have a real chance to tug at a slip knot. As a veteran, McCready views Americans like he did his platoon, “we all wear the same uniform.”

North Carolina has the opportunity to prove itself as more than a conservative red state, but as one that is open to social change. It is this uniting approach that has the power to strengthen the state of North Carolina and our country as a whole.

Democrats are the current majority leaders of the House of Representatives with 235 congressional district representatives next to 197 Republicans. This open seat is a foothold for Dems to secure the Blue Wave with NC 9 on their side.

Where do you come in?

Non-NC friends, please spread the word. Keep the buzz of this special election alive and reach out to your friends in North Carolina. Many of the Democrats in the 2020 Presidential Race have pledged to support and help fund McCready through this impending victory. If you are able to, consider donating to Dan McCready's campaign.

North Carolina: get out the vote.

The new primary election for North Carolina’s Ninth District is set for May 14 with thirteen candidates in the running. Following the primary, a redo general election is set for September 10. Find your polling place here. For more up to date voter registration information and upcoming McCready events, click here.

This vote is crucial, this vote is impossible without you. Keep the Blue Wave rolling, all the way to 2020.

x Dani Pinkus

Photo courtesy of Alejandro Alvarez on Unsplash



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