FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, file photo, Mark Harris, Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th Congressional race, prepares to testify during the fourth day of a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th Congressional District voting irregularities investigation at the North Carolina State Bar in Raleigh, N.C. Harris, whose narrow lead in the North Carolina congressional race was thrown out because of suspicions of ballot fraud, announced Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, he will not run in the newly ordered do-over election, saying he needs surgery in late March. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool, File)

Well-known Republicans steer clear of disputed US House race

February 27, 2019 - 1:03 am

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three well-known Republicans are staying out of a North Carolina congressional race being re-run after suspicions of ballot fraud tainted the first try. Instead, the GOP's 50-year hold on the seat will be left to lesser-known candidates.

Mark Harris said Tuesday he will not run in the new election the state elections board ordered unanimously last week. Harris was the apparent winner of the 9th Congressional District race before ballot fraud allegations surfaced.

Harris was hospitalized last month by a blood infection and said he suffered two strokes. He said he needs surgery late next month.

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger and former Gov. Pat McCrory also say they won't seek the seat.

Catawba College politics professor Michael Bitzer says GOP candidates must distance themselves from the scandal that forced the new race.

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