Democrat Dan McCready conceded defeat in the 9th Congressional District Wednesday, almost 24 hours after polls closed and long after Republican Mark Harris had already declared victory.
Surrounded by his family as he spoke to reporters Wednesday afternoon, McCready said while he and Harris disagreed on issues, he “never doubted his commitment” to the country.
Invoking his campaign slogan, he said, “For me now, country over party means offering my help to Mark, which I did by phone, as he takes over his new job representing us. I believe when our leaders succeed, all of us succeed.”
McCready trailed Harris by 1,869 votes, with all precincts reporting.
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In a statement shortly after McCready’s appearance, Harris said he’d gotten a call from the Democrat congratulating him.
“It was a very friendly discussion during which we both agreed to find ways to work together in the weeks and months ahead,” Harris said in a statement. “As someone who has been on the other side of close races, I appreciate Dan’s graciousness today. He ran a spirited campaign and I have no doubt as to his love of country. I look forward to sitting down with him to discuss ways we can work together for the betterment of the 9th District.”
Earlier Wednesday Harris told reporters he plans to take “the next steps” in transitioning to being the new congressman for North Carolina’s 9th District. The two candidates’ vote totals are less than 1 percent apart, which means that McCready was entitled to ask for a recount.
Harris made it clear his reading of Tuesday’s results “showed a clear win for Team Harris” and that now he is “focused on preparing to serve the constituents” in the 9th District, which stretches from south Charlotte to Cumberland County.
Harris said he plans to fly to Washington on Monday for an orientation session for new members of Congress. When Harris takes office, he will join a Republican conference that lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives to Democrats in Tuesday’s elections.
Harris said that won’t affect how he does his job in Congress. “Whether Republicans are in the majority ... or in the minority,” he said, “I am there to represent citizens of the 9th District.”
Harris carried the eastern suburban precincts near Matthews and Mint Hill. His biggest precinct win in Mecklenburg came near Mint Hill at the Union County border, where Harris won 59 percent of the vote. Harris carried that momentum into Union County. He won the county 51,292 to 22,680, taking 43 of 52 precincts.
Harris won more than 60 percent of the vote in 25 Union County precincts and more than 75 percent of the vote in seven precincts.
McCready won 41 of Mecklenburg County’s 50 precincts in the 9th District, including nearly all precincts in the affluent southern Charlotte wedge — which often votes Republican.
McCready’s biggest precinct wins in Mecklenburg came in the Elizabeth and Cherry neighborhoods, just south of uptown. In Elizabeth, he captured more than 80 percent of the vote. In Cherry, more than 64 percent, according to the Board of Elections.
In conceding, McCready told his supporters it was OK to be sad or frustrated, “But it’s not OK to give up.”
“We didn’t win this campaign,” he said, “but there is no doubt in my mind that our efforts . . . moved this country forward.”