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GOP candidate who had a narrow lead in undecided 2018 House race and called for a new election just dropped out

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Mark Harris had initially seemed to be in the lead, but the election was hotly contested

David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/TNS via Getty Images

Despite getting more votes than his Democratic opponent in a contested November election, Republican candidate Mark Harris has dropped out of the redo election for one of North Carolina's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

What happened with the election?

In November, Harris at first seemed to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready by a narrow margin of only 905 votes to represent North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. However, the state's board of elections refused to certify the results, after being notified of allegations that someone working on Harris's campaign may have committed election fraud.

Leslie McCrae Dowless, a convicted felon who has been implicated in past instances of election fraud, is accused of paying people to manipulate ballots during the election.

During a hearing on Feb. 20, Harris's son, John Harris, testified that he had warned his father about questionable behavior that Dowless had exhibited during another election in 2016. However, John Harris insisted that he did not believe his father ever thought that Dowless was involved in anything corrupt.

On Feb. 21, election officials announced that the state would be throwing out November's results and holding a new election. The date for the new election has not been announced.

What happened today?

Mark Harris released a statement Tuesday saying he was dropping out of the race due to health concerns. It read, in part:

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....I owe it to Beth, my children and my six grandchildren to make th wisest decision for my health. I also owe it to the citizens of the Ninth District to have someone at full stregth during the new campaign. It is my hope that in the upcoming primary, a solid conservative leader will emerge to articulate the critical issues that face our nation.

According to the Washington Post, Harris is suffering from an infection that has caused sepsis and two strokes.

Harris suggested that his supporters back another potential candidate, Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing. A Twitter account that seems to belong to Rushing was started on Jan. 7 and is almost entirely full of tweets defending Harris.

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