Yesterday saw stunning developments in the State Board of Elections hearing in NC-09. The day played out like a Greek tragedy with a son exposing the sins of a supposedly pious father. In an apparently surprise move, Mark Harris’ son, John, took the stand. Neither Harris, his wife nor Dan McCready’s lawyer, Marc Elias, knew he was going to testify. John, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, directly contradicted statements made by Harris and his campaign team.
In emails and phone conversations, John warned his father numerous times that McCrae Dowless was crooked before he was hired to work on the Harris campaign. John went as far as to email his father the statute that says collecting absentee ballots is a felony. His father dismissed the concerns, saying he believed McCrae Dowless when Dowless said everything was above board. The picture that emerges is one of a man so consumed by ambition that he’s willing to accept lies to further his own quest for power.
The contrast between John Harris and Harris campaign consultant Andy Yates, whose testimony John followed, was dramatic. While Yates claimed to be shocked and dismayed by what he learned about Dowless operation in the hearings, John said he was only dismayed, not shocked, because he suspected bad behavior all along. John also said he told Yates as far back as 2017 about his concerns. John said he looked at the numbers Dowless was reporting in other elections and knew something was wrong, something Yates either failed to do or ignored.
In addition, John suggested the campaign knew of potential problems so they paid Dowless through Yate’s consulting firm to add “a layer of protection.” Honest campaigns don’t need protection from their workers or consultants. John’s candor contrasted sharply with Yates’ obvious lack of it.
On twitter, Carolina Journal editor Rick Henderson called it a “Perry Mason moment.” Almost immediately after John Harris noted that he had warned his father numerous times about Dowless, Spectrum News Anchor Tim Boyum posted a video of Mark Harris vehemently denying anyone had ever suggested Dowless might be breaking the law. The son’s testimony was devastating to the father’s credibility.
John ended his testimony saying that he loved his parents and that he had no vendetta against them. He also chastised both parties for playing gotcha politics that hurt the country. He is clearly a remarkably principled young man. For all of his failings, Mark Harris gets credit for helping instill those values in his son. John Harris offers more evidence that it’s next generation of leaders that will save the country from this one. Let’s hope they take over soon.
In another moment of truth yesterday, UNC beat number one ranked Dook by 16 points in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >