Republicans managed to successfully hold both seats in the House of Representatives from North Carolina that were up for grabs in special elections Tuesday, marking three consecutive wins in special elections to the House this year.
In the 3rd congressional district, left vacant after the death of incumbent Walter Jones in February, Republican state representative Greg Murphy defeated Democrat Allen Thomas. In the 9th district, Republican state senator Dan Bishop defeated Democrat Dan McCready.
Of these two races, the 9th district was seen as the more competitive, and considered a bellwether for the 2020 presidential election. The seat was held by Congressman Robert Pittenger since 2013, until Pittenger lost the primary in 2018 to pastor Mark Harris.
Harris then narrowly defeated McCready in the general election in 2018, by a margin of just over 900 votes. However, Democratic activists began accusing the Harris campaign, without evidence, of election fraud due to the close margin; the North Carolina State Board of Elections ultimately refused to certify the results, thus calling for a new election. Harris chose not to run again, and Bishop won the nomination. The 9th district remained without a representative during that time.
President Trump held a rally for Bishop the day before the election in Fayetteville, where he encouraged voters to support Bishop, while accusing McCready of “disloyalty” due to his support for “sanctuary cities.”
As of Tuesday night, Bishop held a lead of more than 4,000 votes over McCready with 99 percent of precincts reporting in. He also significantly improved on Harris’s performance by flipping two counties that went for McCready in 2018 – Richmond and Cumberland counties – while also significantly closing the gap in Robeson County, reducing McCready’s lead from the 13-point margin he held in 2018 to a one-point lead in this election.
These races were the second and third special elections, respectively, for the House of Representatives this year. In May, a special election was held for Pennsylvania’s 12th district, vacated by the resignation of incumbent Representative Tom Marino (R-Penn.). The seat was won by Republican Fred Keller, keeping it in Republican hands.
These elections now put the Republicans at 199 seats in the House of Representatives, meaning that they need to flip 19 seats in order to take back the majority in 2020.