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Surprise Testimony From Candidate's Son: I Warned Dad

NC elections board weighing the validity of Mark Harris' victory in House race
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2019 8:01 AM CST
Mark Harris, Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th Congressional race, fights back tears at the conclusion of his son John Harris's testimony Wednesday.   (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool)
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(Newser) – Not the usual kind of testimony heard before a state elections board: "I love my dad and I love my mom," John Harris told North Carolina officials Wednesday. "I certainly have no vendetta against them, no family scores to settle, OK? I think they made mistakes in this process." More significantly, Harris testified that he warned his father, Mark Harris, about a political operative's iffy tactics on absentee ballots, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. Mark Harris used the operative anyway, and that decision could cost him a House race. In the still-uncalled race, Mark Harris leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes, but the state won't certify the results. Elections officials have concluded that operative Leslie McCrae Dowless illegally harvested absentee ballots on behalf of Mark Harris.

"I thought what he was doing was illegal, and I was right,” John Harris, an assistant US attorney in North Carolina, told the state board. He said he first became suspicious of Dowless after looking into results of a 2016 campaign, and he relayed those suspicions multiple times to his father and to his father's 2018 campaign strategist, reports the Washington Post. The testimony contradicts the men's assertions that they were not aware of any such trouble with Dowless. "I can tell you that my view is that they heard my concerns, that other people that were a lot closer to the situation and Mr. Dowless endorsed his activity, and Mr. Dowless lied to them repeatedly," he said. Mark Harris, who did not know his son was to testify, cried; John Harris' voice cracked at one point, per the Post. The hearing continues Thursday, with Mark Harris himself expected to testify. (Read more Mark Harris stories.)

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