Republican at center of 2018 ballot fraud scandal wins House primary in North Carolina

CNNNorth Carolina pastor Mark Harris has won the Republican nomination for North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, making him the likely next member of Congress from this red district some five years after his apparent victory in an earlier House election was thrown out over ballot fraud allegations.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections finalized the results on Tuesday, confirming that Harris will win more than the 30% necessary to avoid a runoff.

Harris had finished atop a crowded GOP primary field with just over 30% of the vote in the March 5 primary election, surpassing the state threshold for avoiding a runoff. Republican incumbent Dan Bishop is vacating the seat, located east of Charlotte, to run for North Carolina attorney general.

“I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for your support, not just in this election, but for the years you’ve stood by me,” Harris said in a March 6 social media post. He will face Democrat Justin Dues in the fall general election in a district that President Donald Trump would have carried by 18 points in 2020.

Harris was making his fourth run for Congress after a failed Senate bid in 2014, a failed House bid in 2016 and a House campaign in 2018 that made national headlines.

He was the apparent winner of that 2018 contest by 905 votes. But allegations of absentee ballot tampering, related to a consultant who worked for Harris’ campaign, stopped the state Board of Elections from certifying the result. Harris later called for a new election. But he didn’t run in the 2019 do-over election, which was won by Bishop.

The scandal was the subject of debate questions and attacks from rivals during this year’s primary.

But in making his self-described comeback bid, Harris spun a Trump-like narrative. “In 2020, Democrats stole the election from President Trump. The year before, they did it to me,” Harris said in his announcement video.

CNN’s Ethan Cohen contributed to this report.