9th District candidates turn to the grassroots — and the president — in final push

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9th Congressional District special election

Republican Dan Bishop, Democrat Dan McCready, Libertarian Jeff Scott and Green Party candidate Allen Smith are running in the Sept. 10 special election.

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A week before his scheduled rally for Republican Dan Bishop, President Donald Trump is on the air — and on the phone — urging voters to back the 9th Congressional District candidate.

Trump is featured in what Bishop calls “the closing ad” of his special election campaign. The president also is reportedly making robo-calls to voters on Bishop’s behalf.

Democrat Dan McCready, meanwhile, urged residents of a Matthews senior center to vote.

“We’re tied,” McCready told about 70 residents of Windsor Run. “It’s going to be extremely close.”

Bishop and McCready are running in a special election ordered after state officials found evidence of ballot fraud in the 2018 election. Libertarian Jeff Scott and Green Party candidate Allen Smith are also running in the Sept. 10 election.

Inside Elections published a poll Friday that showed McCready up by 4 points, still within the margin of error. It also showed 47% of likely 9th District voters approve of Trump’s performance while 48% disapprove.

Like that poll, internal surveys by each side indicate another close race in the district. Last November McCready appeared to trail Republican Mark Harris by just 905 votes. Little wonder that both candidates are focusing on getting out the vote in what’s expected to be a low-turnout election.

Through Monday, 9.2% of 9th District voters had cast early or absentee ballots, according to the State Board of Elections. Democrats were voting at a rate that exceeded their registration percentage while Republicans were essentially matching theirs. Democrats have traditionally done better in early voting while Republicans do better on Election Day.

State officials have urged voters to cast ballots early with the prospect of Hurricane Dorian hitting the state this week.

McCready campaign spokesman Matt Fried said the campaign expects to knock on 100,000 doors this week. Spokesman Jessica Proud said the Bishop campaign also has a strong field and get-out-the-vote operation. Bishop is hoping that big names also help.

On Monday, Trump is scheduled to fly in for an evening rally at Fayetteville’s Crown Complex while Vice President Mike Pence campaigns Monday at Wingate University.

Bishop’s new TV ad includes footage of the president endorsing him at a July rally in Greenville. “Dan McCready is an ultra-liberal,” Trump says. “He likes open borders and he really admires socialism.”

Asked about Bishop’s high-profile surrogates Tuesday, McCready said, “Obviously Dan Bishop is terrified . . . So he’s bringing in everyone he can to bail him out.”

McCready, who has campaigned as a moderate, has tried to distance himself from his party’s more liberal presidential candidates. Speaking to the seniors Tuesday, he dismissed the “crazy aspirational things” that some candidates have called for.

Both campaigns say they’re prepared to take appropriate action if N.C. counties suffer hurricane damage. At a Volunteer Appreciation Event in Union County Monday, Bishop collected supplies such as bottled water and canned goods for relief efforts.

Jim Morrill, who grew up near Chicago, covers state and local politics. He’s worked at the Observer since 1981 and taught courses on North Carolina politics at UNC Charlotte and Davidson College.