Mark Harris announced his run for the United States Congress on March 28. In a “soft launch” announcement, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and former candidate for the U.S. Senate said he will seek the seat for the newly shaped 9th Congressional District.
Only two weeks before the announcement Harris said he was asked to “give serious and prayerful consideration” to entering the U.S. House race.
Photo by Mark Harris campaign
“The 9th District was one of two districts that was almost completely overhauled in the redistricting that took place under the judges’ ruling,” he said.
Harris was referring to the legal battle over the shape of the state’s 13 voting districts. On Feb. 19 the U.S. Supreme Court did not stop a lower-court order that demanded North Carolina legislators draw new congressional districts. The decision means U.S. House primary elections did not happen on March 15 as scheduled. Primary elections for all of North Carolina’s congressional seats were rescheduled for June 7.
The new shape of the 9th District “really did fit me quite well,” Harris explained. “Previously, it was a district that was primarily Iredell County, most of Mecklenburg and a piece of Union County.” The new boundaries include much of the U.S. Highway 74 corridor from Charlotte to Lumberton. It covers 30 precincts in eastern Mecklenburg – including Harris’ home – plus all of Union, Anson, Richmond, Scotland and Robeson counties. Half of Bladen and half of Cumberland counties are also in the newly drawn district.
“As we began to pray about that race and looking at the people we would be representing in the 9th District, it became a genuine conviction that this is the door that perhaps God was opening up for us to bring my voice to the United States Congress,” said Harris.
The special election will require a lot of effort and education for voters, according to Harris. Most thought they were voting for congress when they voted in the March 15 primary. But the timing of the court’s ruling prevented printing new ballots in time for the primary. So a special election had to be set for a later date. “A lot of people I talk to are not even aware that there is a special election on June 7,” Harris added.
The turnout is expected to be low, which is normal for a runoff election. If Christians will be intentional about voting, Harris believes “we can elect someone who holds the same biblical world view and matches up to us doctrinally.” The low turnout in special elections also means every vote is more influential than in a typical election.
He has been endorsed by Sue Myrick, former congresswoman for the district. Harris said former republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has also endorsed him and will visit the state to campaign for him. Endorsements of other national leaders are forthcoming.
Since the district is close to his home Harris said, “I am able to sleep in my own bed every night and preach on Sunday, … so I am not taking a sabbatical, but carrying on my responsibilities with the help of a great staff and a body of supportive deacons.”