Today is the special primary election to fill the vacant seat in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Earlier this year, the North Carolina Board of Elections refused to certify the 2018 election between Mark Harris (R-NC) and Dan McCready (D-NC) due to irregularities in absentee ballots. Following a series of hearings on the case, the Board of Elections voted to order a new election. This marks the first “redo” election for a congressional race since the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race in 1974 and it is expected to be the closest of the three special elections scheduled for this year.
There are ten Republicans running in the primary while Democrat Dan McCready is the sole Democrat in the race. A candidate must receive 30% of the vote to avoid a runoff – if a runoff is needed it will be held on Sept. 10 and the general election will be Nov. 5. If a runoff is not needed the general will be on Sept. 10. Democratic-leaning Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) is holding municipal elections on that day, which could help McCready, so Republicans will hope to avoid a runoff.
AR/Intel Insiders: A full Race Brief on the NC-09 election is available here.
Below are a few additional top-line items to keep in mind going into tonight. Polls close at 7:30pm.
- State Sen. Dan Bishop (R), known for authoring North Carolina’s “bathroom bill,” appears to be the candidate to beat. He has the backing of the Club for Growth, who has spent about $138K attacking his opponents, and has led in fundraising (he goes into the primary with $184K on hand). Bishop is also the clear frontrunner in the polling, but he is hovering right around 30%, with 21% undecided.
- Polling second with 17% is Stony Rushing, a gun-range owner and Union County commissioner. Rushing has said he won’t call for a runoff if he ends up finishing second in the primary.
- Per The Wall Street Journal: “Early-voting results show enthusiasm in the Mecklenburg County home turf of Mr. Bishop, according to an analysis by political scientist Michael Bitzer of Catawba College. Mecklenburg represents about 35% of the eligible voters but about 50% of the early votes cast, Mr. Bitzer said. That compares favorably to neighboring Union County, the home of Mr. Rushing, who was endorsed by [Mark] Harris after he dropped out of the race. Union makes up 36% of the total pool but 34% of the early ballots, Mr. Bitzer said.”
- Turnout is expected to be low: a local political scientist found that about 3% of eligible voters voted early. If past Election Day trends hold, turnout may not exceed 10%. By comparison, turnout in last month’s NC03 special election was nearly 15%.