When the election fraud scandal in in the 9thCongressional race broke, the Republican Party initially said we need a full investigation but that presumed winner Mark Harris should be seated in Congress. They initially said Democrats were trying to steal the election. Yesterday, they changed their tune. 

NCGOP Party Chair Robin Hayes and Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said that they support a new election in 9thCongressional District. They made the statements after seeing evidence that people in Bladen County reviewed early vote totals before election day. That’s a violation of campaign laws and certainly reaches the threshold of a tainted election that would require a new vote. Woodhouse said they were not prepared to say whether or not a new primary is needed. 

The Harris campaign has remained quiet in recent days. At first Mark Harris demanded to be seated and blasted Democrats. After evidence emerged that he not only knew McRae Dowless, the primary suspect in the fraud investigation, but recommended him to other Republicans, Harris retreated from view. Woodhouse gave weak support for Harris yesterday, saying that he and GOP leaders believed Harris did not know about the absentee ballot scheme. Democrats, for their part, asked what Harris knew and when he knew it.

After Hayes and Woodhouse made their announcements, several progressives on twitter surmised that the GOP wanted to limit the investigation were trying to turn attention away from broader fraud across the state. They have no evidence of any fraud and nobody has made any accusations. The response is typical of the distrust that exists in politics today. 

I think Democrats should welcome the statements. Instead of assuming the worst, we should give Republicans the benefit of the doubt. In fact, we should do more than that. We should praise them standing up for our democracy. 

At a time when we’re so divided as a state and nation, we need to reward good behavior, not condemn it. Those of us who have been in the political arena for more than just a decade or so remember a time when we fought hard but did not assume our political adversaries were dishonest or evil. Hayes and Woodhouse have both been political figures or operatives for most of their lives. Let’s assume that their respect for our political process trumps their desire to win a seat in Congress. Let’s give them credit where credit is due.  

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