When the next House of Representatives takes office in January, it is almost a certainty the Democratic majority will not permit the seating of Republican Mark Harris, whose election in the Charlotte-based 9th District is enmeshed in controversy.
That is what several lawmakers told questsin on Tuesday, days after North Carolina's State Board of Elections and Ethics Reform declined to certify the results of the 9th District race. Although official results showed Harris edging Democrat Dan McCready, fresh evidence of illegal "vote-harvesting" by the Republican nominee's campaign have led to the decision not to give him a certificate of election.
The vote not to certify by the nine-member Board was unanimous. The Board's membership consists of four Republicans, four Democrats and one independent.
The case against the Harris campaign grew intense Tuesday, following the admissions of several paid campaign workers for Harris that they collected absentee ballots from voters and turned them over to the a political consultant employed by Harris. This practice of collecting ballots, known as vote-harvesting, is against the law in North Carolina. In both cases, the workers who admitted the practice said they were paid by Harris campaign contractor Leslie McCrae Dowless.
"It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Democrats don't permit Harris to take his seat," Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., told questsin. "It's not a good way to start off a new session of Congress. But things have to work themselves out in North Carolina."
Cole's comments came on the heels of incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's, D-Md., comment to reporters "there is a very substantial question" about Harris' election and House Democrats would oppose his seating "until that is resolved."
The House could declare the seat vacant and leave it to the state of North Carolina to order a new election to fill the seat.
Harris, a Christian pastor, narrowly defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., in the GOP primary earlier in the year.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for questsin. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.