The special election was called after the Republican candidate in the 2018 election, Mark Harris, was embroiled in an illegal vote-harvesting scandal. Last November, North Carolina officials refused to certify the results of the race between Mr. McCready and Mr. Harris because of “irregularities” in the balloting.
A monthslong investigation concluded in February that the Republicans had engaged in an illegal voter-turnout effort, prompting officials to overturn the results and set a new election. Mr. Harris withdrew from the contest, setting off a crowded Republican primary race that Mr. Bishop won. So in effect, Mr. McCready has been campaigning for the seat for 27 straight months.
That the conservative district is up for grabs at all is a concern for Republicans, and the president’s appearance in the state on the eve of the election highlighted that. Mr. Trump carried North Carolina by less than four points in 2016.
“If North Carolina suburbs are transitioning from a solid Republican base to a more ‘competitive’ region,” Mike Bitzer, a Catawba College professor, wrote in an election preview, “then the Ninth Congressional District may be a potential test case for whether this gives any indication as to the reaction by suburban voters to the president’s actions over the past few weeks.”
With an eye to next November, Mr. Trump also touted his own record here.
“More Americans are working today than ever before in the history of our country,” he boasted to a cheering crowd. The president also condemned the news media for working against him on behalf of his “radical” Democratic rivals, eliciting boos and jeers from the audience.
Mr. Bishop joined him onstage to attack “the fake news media,” which he called “the handmaidens and allies” of “socialist” Democrats.
Mr. Trump had added a stop en route to the rally — to Emerald Isle, N.C. — to survey local damage from Hurricane Dorian, which battered the state’s coastline. But the tour was called off because of a new round of severe weather, leaving Mr. Trump to receive a storm briefing aboard Air Force One, where he was joined by state and federal officials.