Elections

Robert Pittenger retracts criticism of Dan Bishop after Bishop threatens to sue

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger retracted emailed comments about fellow Republican Dan Bishop — and acknowledged the comments were false — Tuesday night after Bishop threatened to sue.

In an email endorsing former Mecklenburg Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour for his old congressional seat in the 9th District, Pittenger had strongly criticized Bishop for what Pittenger called his ties to former GOP candidate Mark Harris. Bishop and Ridenhour are among 10 Republicans running for the seat.

“You cannot publish lies about me,” Bishop told Pittenger in an email Tuesday evening.

Pittenger quickly retracted his comments in the email.

“I retract the statement about Dan Bishop as it was false,” Pittenger wrote.

Pittenger lost to Harris in last year’s contentious GOP primary. Harris went on to lead Democrat Dan McCready on Election Day, only to have the State Board of Elections order a new election after evidence of election fraud in Bladen County.

“I understand your bitterness over losing your seat in Congress, expressed in various ways over the past months,” Bishop wrote Pittenger. “You are entitled to endorse a candidate for the seat you lost and to hold and express opinions, even if born of that bitterness. You cannot publish lies about me.”

Jason Williams, Harris’ former campaign manager, said Bishop “had no involvement with our campaign beyond endorsing” Harris. Republicans face off in a May 14 GOP primary.

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