State Sen. Dan Bishop easily won the Republican primary special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District on Tuesday. Bishop’s victory sets up a September general election battle with Dan McCready, who won the uncontested Democrat primary.
Bishop’s 47 percent of the vote was well above the 30 percent required to avoid a runoff. Stony Rushing, the second place finisher in the field of nine, finished 28 points behind Bishop with 19 percent of the vote.
While the outcome of the general special election on September 10 will have no impact on the Democrats’ majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives—where they currently hold a 38-vote margin over Republicans—it will likely be seen as a bellwether indicator of how North Carolina, a key battleground state won by President Trump in 2016, will vote in the 2020 presidential election.
It also sets up clear ideological battle lines between the GOP’s Trump-supporting Bishop, who co-sponsored the controversial 2016 Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, more commonly known as the “bathroom bill,” which required public facilities to limit the usage of restrooms by gender, and Democrat McCready, a critic of Trump’s polices as well as Bishop’s traditional values agenda. The bill was partially repealed in 2017 after heavy pressure from large corporations and national organizations, like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which boycotted events in the Tar Heel State until the revised legislation was signed into law.
McCready wasted no time going on the attack, issuing this statement about his general special election opponent after Bishop was declared the winner of the GOP primary:
“As you may recall, he’s best known for sponsoring HB2, North Carolina’s notorious “bathroom bill.” That bill discriminated against our state’s LGBTQ community, hurt our national reputation and cost us billions in economic activity. But he fought for it all the way to the end.
Now he wants to take his extreme far-right agenda to Washington. Special interests and Republican DC insiders are already lining up to help him because they know he’ll likely be a rubber stamp for their partisan agenda.
Now we’re in a four-month sprint to Election Day. It’s our grassroots team versus his special interest backers. And if this team steps up right now and puts in the work, we will win.”
The 9th Congressional District’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives has been vacant since the 116th Congress convened in January due to the controversies surrounding the 2018 midterm election between GOP nominee Dr. Mark Harris, who defeated incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC-09) in the May 2018 GOP primary, and Democrat nominee McCready.
But the outcome of that election was never certified, and Harris chose not to run in the subsequent special election, as Breitbart News reported on February 26:
Republican Mark Harris announced on Tuesday he will not run in the special election ordered in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District last week by the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE), citing health concerns.
Harris received 905 more votes on election day, November 6, than his Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, and was certified as the winner by the boards of elections in all eight counties that comprise the 9th Congressional District. The North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, the state board as it was then constituted that had, at the time, the only legal authority to certify elections recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives, refused to certify Harris’s election on November 28.
A long and winding probe, centered on allegations of absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen County by Leslie McCrae Dowless, a long-time Democrat political operative hired by Harris’s campaign manager, came to a close last week after four days of hearings by the newly constituted NCSBE. After a day testifying before the NCSBE, Harris himself called for a new election, which the NCSBE officially ordered a few hours later.
Given its importance, the September 10 general special election between Bishop and McCready in the 9th Congressional District is expected to be very expensive as total spending by both candidates, both parties, and outside groups is likely to exceed the $1.2 million that was spent on the primary special elections.
Another general special election will be held on the same day to select a successor to the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC-03) in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District.