The Republican candidate at the center of a months-long investigation into election fraud in a North Carolina congressional race now won't be a candidate for the upcoming special election that was ordered last week.

Republican Mark Harris cited health concerns as one reason he won't run again in the yet-to-be-scheduled race.

"After consulting with my physicians, there are several things that my health situation requires as a result of the extremely serious condition that I faced in mid-January. One of those is a necessary surgery that is now scheduled for the last week in March," Harris said in a letter to supporters on Tuesday. "Given my health situation, the need to regain full strength, and the timing of this surgery the last week of March, I have decided not to file in the new election for Congressional District 9."

In his statement, Harris endorsed Union County commissioner Stony Rushing instead. On Monday, former North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory ruled out running for the seat.

After last November's election, Harris appeared to have a 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready. But then the state declined to certify the race after allegations surfaced that an operative Harris had employed, McCrae Dowless, was illegally collecting absentee ballots.

Harris had maintained that he didn't know about any wrongdoing, but after emotional testimony from one of his sons during a hearing of the State Board of Elections last week cast doubt on his denials, the former Baptist pastor finally acknowledged a new election was necessary. The board subsequently voted unanimously to hold redo the race — the only congressional contest still undecided from the 2018 midterm elections.

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