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Poor Mark Harris won't ever go to Congress now. After the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted last week to hold a new election for the Ninth Congressional District, Harris announced Tuesday that his health is simply too frail for him to face the rigors of campaigning. Especially since last week's vote came following testimony showing how a campaign operative hired by Harris had engaged in systematic tampering with absentee ballots in two counties, and that Harris's OWN SON had told him it was illegal.

Thank goodness Harris found a successor to endorse: Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing, a rightwing nutjob who blames Democrats for Harris's trouble and has a penchant for (no, really) cosplaying as Boss Hogg, the fictional corrupt county commissioner from "The Dukes of Hazzard."


Tuesday, Harris took himself out of the election do-over, which has not yet been scheduled. Under a state law passed by the Republican-held legislature after the late unpleasantness came to light, there will also be a new primary, and apparently Harris just wasn't up to the stress of it all, citing an "extremely serious condition" that will require surgery next month.

"Given my health situation, the need to regain full strength, and the timing of this surgery the last week of March, I have decided not to file in the new election for Congressional District 9," Harris wrote in a statement. "While few things in my life have brought me more joy than getting to meet and know the people of this incredible part of North Carolina, and while I have been overwhelmed by the honor of their support for me as the Congressman-elect of NC-9, I owe it to Beth, my children and my six grandchildren to make the wisest decision for my health."

Funny, Harris never said anything about his health when he was insisting -- as late as last week -- the board should certify the election and send him to Congress. Then again, his health probably took a sudden turn when his own son testified he'd warned the elder Harris about the fraudy illegal nature of the absentee ballot effort.

Harris, a former Baptist preacher, knew exactly who would best take his place in the Republican primary: Stony Rushing, a genuine true American hero who runs a gun range, loves the Second Amendment, and insisted in January the REAL fraud in Bladen County was perpetrated by Democrats, somehow. As for the Boss Hogg getup, yes, that's intentional, reports the Washington Post:

Most elected officials would spurn the comparison to Boss Hogg, especially those eyeing a seat in Congress. But not this local politician and gun range owner, who dressed as the grifter for Halloween last year, on the eve of the November election that would solidify his local following and set him up to seek higher office. [...]

Rushing, who is a distant relative of Jerry Rushing, the moonshiner whose exploits helped inspire the action-comedy series, is unlike most elected officials. He embraces the comparison to the unscrupulous television character, portrayed by the actor Sorrell Booke. He has even campaigned on it, plastering his Facebook page with photographs of himself in the classic Hogg get-up, gun in one hand, cigar in the other.

He seems nice! Rushing seems to think the results of his county commission race bode well for his chances in the congressional do-over, because after all, nothing has changed between a county race in 2018 and a redo of a tainted congressional race later this year, has it?

Rushing was the commission's top vote-getter in his reelection campaign last fall, when he earned 20,000 more votes than Democrat Dan McCready, who trailed Harris by 905 votes in an outcome that state officials refused to certify. That edge, he said, bodes well for his race against the Marine Corps veteran and first-time candidate.

"I've got an extremely good chance," Rushing said. Other Republicans have said they are considering running for the seat, and state law requires a primary in addition to a fresh general election, the timing of which remains uncertain.

Rushing isn't particularly worried a Republican could be hurt by the recent fuss over a little bit of ballot frauding in the 2018 race, either, because he says the scandal was "blown out of proportion." In fact, once the Elections Board moved to hold a new election, Rushing took to Facebook to say who was at fault: not Mark Harris for hiring a fraudy grifter, or the fraudy grifter who submitted faked absentee ballots (and presumably disappeared some real ones), but obviously, Democratic candidate Dan McCready and all the Republicans who do his bidding, because that's just how they are.

We're so relieved to see he's planning a campaign of ideas.

And as the Post notes, Rushing is a fan of all the things good Republicans love: wild accusations and just plain making shit up!

On Facebook, he has demonized voters who alleged unlawful conduct by the Harris operative, spread conspiracy theories about the political motivations of a former local elections chief and argued that the real voter fraud was unfolding up north in Brooklyn. In December, he called for an FBI investigation into the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which refused to validate the election results.

Rushing claimed that absentee ballots had been improperly handled by both parties, even though there is no evidence that McCready benefited from illegal conduct.

And yes, despite ballot tampering by a Republican operative, Rushing agrees with Mitch McConnell: The lesson here is that North Carolina needs tougher restrictions on who can vote. "The whole program needs to be tightened up," he explained, because when your horse escaped through an open barn door, you need to blame an illegal immigrant for taking your horse's job.

Oh, hey, at least Rushing seems at least partially aware of how to pander to people: In the wake of the 2015 mass murder inside a black church in Charleston, Rushing opposed an attempt to remove the Confederate flag from a county courthouse, and helped pass a resolution declaring the courthouse a "museum" so it could keep the traitor flag flying.

"I don't have a problem with the flag or our history," he said at the time, according to the Charlotte Observer.

But now, he appears to have evolved, or at least learned how to spin things a little better, since blacks will probably still be allowed to vote:

Now, Rushing explains the controversy a different way. He said the memorabilia on courthouse grounds, which he aimed to protect, was mostly from the World War II era.

Asked about the Confederate flag, he said, "The government shouldn't fly it."

Mind you, if the courthouse is a museum, then of course it's just fine.

So don't be fooled by Rushing's readiness to act like an idiot from a TV show -- under that silly exterior, he's a real life flesh and blood sack of shit, and don't you forget it.

[CNN / WaPo / Stony Harris on Facebook]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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