Politics & Government

Hurricane Florence whips up a controversy in NC’s 9th Congressional District

Even before it makes landfall, Hurricane Florence has created a dust-up in the 9th District congressional race.

Democrat Dan McCready Wednesday suspended his campaign because of the storm.

“I am ordering the suspension of the campaign. This is not a time to focus on politics, it’s a time to focus on the safety of the people of North Carolina,” he said in a statement. “That’s why we have directed all TV stations to suspend our campaign ads.”

On Thursday, a spokesman for his Republican opponent Mark Harris dismissed McCready’s move.

“It’s a transparent gimmick designed to score political points by taking advantage of a dangerous situation,” said consultant Jordan Shaw.

Republican Mark Harris File photo rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

“Dan suspended his campaign because North Carolinians’ lives and homes are under threat and we are not going to engage in a petty political back and forth,” McCready spokesman Aaron Simpson said. “We said we’re suspending our campaign and we meant it.”

Harris, meanwhile, came under fire for taking out more ads on The Weather Channel in advance of the hurricane.

HuffPost first reported that Harris had bought 56 additional commercial spots on the channel. Andrew Bates, a spokesman for a liberal group supporting McCready, said buying the ads in the middle of the hurricane reflects the GOP campaign’s “rotten values.”

Democrat Dan McCready. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Shaw said McCready’s campaign also has advertised on channel. “He had no problem running television ads on The Weather Channel and every other channel until Mark Harris did the same thing,” he said.

Simpson said the campaign did advertise on the channel, but placed the ads before the hurricane.

Shaw said the Harris campaign is still on the air in the Charlotte area but monitoring the storm. The candidate emailed supporters Thursday with information about shelters and emergency contacts in the district counties.

“Please put safety first,” Harris said in the email, “and please reach out with a helping hand to anyone suffering as a result of this storm.”

Jim Morrill, 704-358-5059; @jimmorrill
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