Mark Harris, former pastor in Charlotte, unseated incumbent Robert Pittenger in North Carolina's 9th District Republican primary election May 8 for the U.S. House of Representatives. Harris, who is also a former president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, ran against Pittenger in 2016 for the same seat but lost by a slim margin. He is the first challenger to upset an incumbent this year, according to news reports, and is set to face the district's Democratic primary winner, Dan McCready, in November.
"From the beginning, this race has been about giving the people of this district a voice," Harris told supporters on Election Night, according to video from Charlotte's WSOC-TV. "You have stood up tonight across the 9th District, and you have made that voice loud and clear."
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, said she is "elated that voters recognized that Mark Harris has the integrity, leadership skills, and conservative values to represent the 9th Congressional District. … We strongly support Mark as he moves into the general election."
Harris resigned last summer from a 12-year tenure as pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte. In an interview with Baptist Press at the time, he described a sense of calling to politics and awareness of “a distinct need” for pastors “not just to take a position on the sideline” of American public life, “but to get engaged.”
(EDITOR'S NOTE – Updated May 10, 11:45 a.m. This story includes reporting from Baptist Press.)