The battle for 2020: Possible Democratic presidential candidates
Some 2020 presidential hopefuls flocking to South Carolina are also planning a detour across the border to help a Democrat in a House election later this year, using it as an opportunity to show their support for voting rights.
One potential contender, Seth Moulton, was in North Carolina’s 9th District, where state officials ordered a new election due to fraud allegations in 2018, Thursday to assist Democrat Dan McCready. Two other candidates, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg, have also pledged to help McCready. And Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren have sent fundraising appeals on McCready’s behalf.
“This is a district that’s symbolic of Americans being stripped of their right to vote across the country,” said Moulton, a Massachusetts congressman in a phone interview with McClatchy. “The fact that votes are being stolen today in 2018, the same way that they were in 1955, is disturbing to say the least.”
Moulton, who is considering a run for president, spent the first part of the week in South Carolina. He drove from Columbia to Charlotte on Thursday morning to participate in a volunteer rally with McCready. The pair are close. Both are former Marines who attended Harvard. It was Moulton who helped convince McCready to run in 2018.
That race ended up drawing controversy and national headlines. Republican Mark Harris’ apparent 905-vote victory over McCready was never certified by the State Board of Elections. The board unanimously ordered a new election in the district after a four-day hearing that outlined evidence of fraud. Harris, on the witness stand, conceded a new election should be held.
Harris is not among the 10 Republicans running in the new election. McCready is the lone Democratic candidate. The primary will be held May 14 with the general scheduled for Sept. 10 or, if a primary runoff is needed, Nov. 5. Libertarian Jeff Scott and Green Party member Allen Smith are also running.
Moulton’s path — events in South Carolina, a stop in NC’s 9th — could become a popular one. Several Democratic candidates campaigned for an Iowa state senate candidate during their frequent trips to that key 2020 state. The candidate won his seat earlier this month in a special election.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, visited the district in October. Holding a plate of barbeque, Buttigieg called McCready his friend and endorsed him as they chatted in a video posted to Facebook. Buttigieg is campaigning in Rock HIll, S.C., this weekend, but is not stopping in the district.
“I was proud to campaign for @McCreadyForNC last year based on his record of service and his vision. Now there’s another reason to have his back: integrity in our democracy is on the ballot,” Buttigieg tweeted on Feb. 26.
Buttigieg, like Moulton and McCready, is a veteran and a Harvard graduate.
Booker, a U.S. Senator from New Jersey, has reached out to McCready, offering his help. Booker is campaigning in South Carolina this weekend. Booker’s father is from Hendersonville.
“I love that state, spent my childhood growing up in that state. I have already reached out to him and look forward to helping Dan out,” Booker told McClatchy on Capitol Hill.
Booker said he was disappointed to see a new primary election — state lawmakers changed the law late last year to add a primary election in case the race was not certified. But he said was happy to see a new race.
Gillibrand, Harris and Warren, all U.S. senators seeking the Democratic nomination, sent their fundraising emails before a new election was called. In her email, Harris touched on the election fraud, a key issue for Democrats across the nation.
Democrats in the U.S. House have introduced several bills to update the Voting Rights Act and expand other voting rights. Moulton, too, has his own proposal that includes a voting holiday, paid time off to vote and end gerrymandering. Moulton said a national holiday for Election Day may have impact on the number of absentee voters. Mail-in absentee ballots were at the core of the fraud in the 9th district.
“The irony of this situation is the Republican Party making all sorts of claims of voter fraud for years now. Like (President Donald) Trump claiming that a bunch of illegal immigrants voted, which is not true,” Moulton said. “But it turns out there is voter fraud in America and it’s being perpetrated by the Republicans.”
McCready has tried to position himself as a moderate in the race, touting his support among Republicans in the district that Trump carried by nearly 12 points in 2016.
“I hope that candidates who do go to N.C. 9 will talk about bringing the country together, will talk about how Dan is supported on folks on both sides of the aisle and will not bring divisive politics into this race because Dan is a unifier,” Moulton said.