Politics

Pittenger Challenger Who Lost by 134 Votes Wants Rematch

Pastor Mark Harris enters Republican primary against three-term incumbent

In an ad announcing he’s running again against Rep. Robert Pittenger, Mark Harris says the time for career politicians is over. (Red Dome via YouTube)

After losing the 2016 Republican primary by 134 votes in a recount against incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Baptist pastor is ready for another run.

Mark Harris, who recently resigned after 12 years as first pastor of First Baptist Charlotte, is mounting another bid for North Carolina’s 9th District in 2018, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. 

Harris came up short against Pittenger in a close three-way Republican primary in June 2016. After picking up only two votes in the recount, Harris conceded to Pittenger. The final vote tally stood at 9,299 for Pittenger and 9,165 for Harris.

In a video posted Monday by Red Dome, a North Carolina political consulting firm, Harris outlined why he decided to run again. With images of American flags and footage of former President Ronald Reagan, Harris starts out asking, “Sometimes, does it seem we’ve lost our way?”

The Baptist pastor highlighted his religious leadership experience throughout the video, including his time as the former president of the North Carolina Baptist Convention.

“Our country was founded by ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things,” Harris said in the video. “Farmers, doctors, yes even members of the clergy took up the calls of freedom and liberty,” he said to images of the Revolutionary War.

Photos of former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appeared as Harris criticized “career politicians.”

“It’s time for citizens politicians to take over the reins of government,” Harris said to images of Reagan and President Donald J. Trump.

Harris outlined several campaign priorities including term limits, a strong military, an end to Obamacare, more patient control in health care, cuts to federal spending, tax reform, fewer regulations, and lower taxes.

“Elect me to Congress and there will be no priority higher than ensuring that your voice is represented and heard,” Harris said.

The Charlotte pastor isn’t Pittenger’s only challenger. He joins Democrat Christian Cano, who lost to Pittenger in the general election. In addition, solar energy financier and Marine veteran Dan McCready announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination as well as former prosecutor Maria Collins Warren.

During the 2016 election, Pittenger’s former real estate business had been under FBI investigation. Federal authorities announced that they had closed the investigation in May 2017 with no charges filed.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 9th District race Solid Republican.

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