Harris Challenging Pittenger Again For Congressional Seat

Aug 1, 2017

The Rev. Mark Harris, longtime pastor of Charlotte's First Baptist Church, is again running for the congressional seat where he almost upset incumbent Republican Robert Pittenger last year.

Harris announced plans Monday to seek the 9th Congressional District Republican nomination again in 2018. Harris is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, although he says he'll resign in order to run his campaign.

"America cannot survive many more years of career politicians putting their ambition ahead of the best interests of our country, " Harris said in a video announcing his candidacy, "It's time for citizen politicians to take over the reigns of government."

In the video, Harris called for term limits for representatives, increased support for the military, and the repeal of Obamacare, saying the federal government should not be involved in healthcare. He also advocated for cutting federal spending on "silly programs," and for tax cuts for "working men and women."

Harris is known as a staunch adversary to many LGBT causes. He was a vocal proponent of banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina through the passage of Amendment One in 2012, which was later found unconstitutional. He also spoke out against Charlotte's push to expand the city's non-discrimination ordinance to include LGBT people, which later prompted HB2.

Previously, Harris ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2014. He came under scrutiny then by television station WRAL for accepting financial "love" offerings from a number of churches, which is a common practice for traveling preachers. The question was whether he was speaking to churches as a candidate or a preacher.

Pittenger is in his third term and serves on the House Financial Services Committee. Redistricting last year shifted his Charlotte-area district to span several rural counties along the South Carolina state line.

The Associated Press contributed.