UNION COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 WJZY) - Union County is set to be an important ground in the new 9th Congressional District special election. Long known as a Republican stronghold, two of the Republican candidates that have filed so far in the race are from the county, and both have political experience.
Stony Rushing and Fern Shubert have long histories of public service within the county. Rushing is a county commisisoner, and Shubert is a former state representative, state senator and Marshville town manager.
"I supported Mark Harris and I still do," said Rushing, who filed Monday morning. Rushing believes the race was essentially stolen from Harris. Harris eventually threw his support to Rushing once he dropped out of the race.
In a lengthy interview with FOX 46 Charlotte, Rushing believes there are still unanswered questions about the original District 9 race between Harris and Democrat Dan McCready in November.
Harris's 905-vote margin stayed for months, without anyone being declared the winner, after the North Carolina State Board of Elections started investigating reports of election fraud in Bladen County, centering around Harris campaign aide McCrae Dowless.
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- State Board of Elections votes to hold new election in NC District 9
After dys of hearings into the matter, Harris cited medical issues and a new belief that the election had been tainted, amd eventually threw his support to a new election.
"We're the ones who bore the cost of this," he said. "We're the ones who don't have represtnation in Washington right now."
Shubert has her own belief about the original race. She also believes Harris should have won, and believes he knew nothing about any of the alleged wrongdoing that investigators said happened in the campaign. In a lengthy interview, she told FOX46 Charlotte she's been aware of election issues statewide.
"I've been pointing out problems with the Board of Elections for a decade," she said. "Both parties, no change."
Both Rushing and Shubert said they plan to address those lingering issues, if elected, and welcomed Tuesday's news of a federal subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice, who is now investigating the November 2018 election.
There are many things the two agree on, including many conservative causes and the core Republican platform, but they are also quick to acknowledge their differences.
When asked about what sets him apart from the other Republican who is officially running, Rushing said, "I think she's wrong because she doesn't have the best interests of the taxpayers at heart anymore. I think her interests are Fern Shubert, and paying back old political vendettas."
Shubert, for her part, said, "I know there are going to be lies told, but not by me. I don't have to lie to get elected. I have that advantage."
Political experts believe the big fight for the NC09 seat will be in the Republican primary, before the general election campaign starts.
Dan McCready re-filed for the special election and is so far unopposed for the Democratic primary.
Jeffrey Scott has filed for the Libertarian Party.
At least two other candidates have publicly stated their intent to file for the Republican primary. Former Mecklenburg County Commmissioner Matthew Ridenhour and Stevie Rivenbark of Fayetteville have both stated their intentions to run.
The filing period runs through Friday.