North Carolina Dem takes big financial lead in US House redo

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Democrat has a big financial lead over his Republican rival in a North Carolina U.S. House special election that was ordered after a ballot-collection scandal in the GOP-leaning district.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission late Monday showed Democrat Dan McCready collected twice as much in contributions as Republican Dan Bishop since late April.

McCready reported raising $1.37 million in the 9th Congressional District race and Bishop received $655,000 during the period, which included the Republican primary in which Bishop won the GOP nomination over nine other candidates.

McCready had almost $1.8 million in cash at the start of July to spend ahead of September’s special election — five times as much as Bishop.

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Vice President Mike Pence is headlining a fundraiser for Bishop in Fayetteville on Wednesday.

“We are proud to have Vice President Pence hosting a fundraiser for us tomorrow and are completely confident we will have the resources we need to get our message out,” Bishop spokeswoman Jessica Proud said in a statement Tuesday evening.

The new financial reports highlight some of McCready’s current advantages, said Brad Crone, a Raleigh-based political consultant who has worked with both Democrats and Republicans. McCready was able to keep fundraising almost non-stop since last year and avoided a primary challenger in this year’s special election, Crone said. Plus, there were few other races around the country for Democrats to focus on.

However, Crone expects Bishop will close the financial gap as national Republican organizations join in.

“At the end of the day, when it comes to media and message, I think you’ll have a level playing field going into the general election into September,” Crone said.

Bishop’s report shows he leaned more heavily than McCready on contributions from other politicians as well as political action committees like those representing soybean producers and auto dealers. About 78% of Bishop’s contributions during the period came from individuals, compared to about 90% for McCready.

McCready’s campaign said the money raised will allow it to run an aggressive campaign ahead of balloting on Sept. 10. Bishop’s spokeswoman and consultants didn’t respond to an invitation for comment on Tuesday.

The district includes all or part of eight counties along the South Carolina border, turning north into Charlotte on its western end and hooking north into Fayetteville in the east. It has been won by Republicans since 1963. President Donald Trump won it by 12 percentage points in 2016.

But McCready has built name recognition in more than two years of campaigning in the congressional district where his race last year against Republican Mark Harris was voided and this year’s special election was ordered. McCready’s campaign said it has raised nearly $3.9 million since November.

Harris, who appeared to have narrowly beaten McCready last November, stepped aside after the state elections board in February found last year’s contest was so tainted that a new election was required . An investigation found Harris recruited a political operative who collected and could have tampered with mail-in ballots. The operative has since been charged with state election crimes but has professed his innocence.

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