After a months-long fight with cancer, McCrae Dowless, the political operative at the center of the 9th Congressional District scandal in 2018, died Sunday morning.

McCrae Dowless
McCrae Dowless

Dowless, a lifelong Bladen County resident, worked for Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris in the 2018 incident that sparked national attention and led to the campaign being called off due to fraud charges.

Dowless spent decades advocating for local candidates from both parties in southeastern North Carolina, while working for Republicans in recent years.

He was also elected to the Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation Board for two terms.

At the request of lawyers for Republican Governor Pat McCrory, who had narrowly lost re-election, he challenged his own re-election victor, prompting state officials to investigate suspicions of election fraud in Bladen County.

The investigation resulted in a detailed report containing credible charges of fraud involving workers who were paid by both Dowless and a competing organization, but no action was done in response to the findings.

State prosecutors in Wake County accused Dowless and six others in 2017 on accusations of election fraud. Dowless and his co-defendants all entered not guilty pleas.