Former congressional candidate, Pastor Mark Harris, a Republican, announced Tuesday morning that he will make a third try for Congress, despite the controversial 2018 election that saw Harris’ victory overturned due to allegations of ballot fraud. The announcement follows sitting Congressman Dan Bishop’s announcement that he will not run for his seat again, seeking instead to be elected North Carolina’s attorney general in 2024.
“After seeing first hand the manufactured scandal that resulted in the Democrat controlled State Board of Elections not certifying our victory in 2018, I am one of the few people who truly understands the extremes Democrats will go to in order to advance their woke, leftist agenda,” Harris stated in the announcement.
Mark Harris, 57, is currently the senior pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in the Iredell County town of Mooresville, a role he accepted in early 2020.
“I fully expect a flurry of lies and rumors from both Democrats and some from my own party. But as these political games play out, I’m focused on the glaring realities of today: the constant climb of of daily living costs, a southern border that remains open, and hardworking Americans suffering from Bidenomics,” Harris continued. “As a pastor, father, and grandfather, I’m dedicated to prioritizing these challenges for the sake of our nation.”
Harris earned his undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University and earned both his Master of Divinity degree and his Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian leadership, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest North Carolina.
Harris has also taken a national leadership position with the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian pro-life, pro traditional marriage organization. Harris serves as the vice president for the Association of Churches and Ministries and works to organize pastors and churches in support of public policies that support traditional conservative values.
Harris ran as a Republican to represent North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District in the 2016 and 2018 elections. In 2016, he was defeated in the Republican primary by incumbent Robert Pittenger. Harris ran for Congress again in 2018, defeating Pittenger in the Republican primary.
In the 2018 general election against Democratic opponent Dan McCready, initial tallies appeared to show Harris winning the election but the Democratic State Board of Elections panel refused to certify Harris’ victory after reports of ballot fraud involving McCrae Dowless, a Bladen County political operative employed by the Harris campaign.
Dowless was later criminally charged in connection with the alleged fraud, but Harris was not. In February 2019, the bipartisan North Carolina Board of Elections dismissed the results of the election and called for a new election to be held. Harris was not a candidate in the new election. No evidence was ever presented that indicated Harris was aware Dowless might have broken the law.
In 2018, the Democrat-majority State Board of Elections broke decades of precedent in refusing to certify the election. Despite some evidence that a small collection of ballots were mishandled, the State Board of Elections never proved that the number of mishandled or corrupted ballots approached the 905-vote margin of victory for Harris.
Facing a hostile board of elections that Harris said was “determined to destroy my reputation, and impugn my character,” Harris himself called for a new election for which he declined to run. Only after Harris called for a new election did GOP members of the State Bord of Elections join their Democrat colleagues in ordering a new election. On Sept. 10, 2019, Dan Bishop won the special election for the seat with 50.7% of the vote to Dan McCready’s 48.7%.
Bishop won re-election in 2020. In 2022, Bishop again won reelection to his seat with 69.9% of the vote, in the renumbered Eighth District, which was drawn significantly more GOP leaning than the district Harris ran in.
“I am not here to relitigate the 2018 election,” Harris told Carolina Journal in an interview last month. “There are too many important issues with what President Biden is doing to the country, and the left has gone crazy.”
One likely opponent will be longtime GOP activist Dan Barry from Union County. Barry has served in numerous party and campaign roles, served in public office, and ran for the Ninth Congressional District seat in 2012. Barry was a presidential elector in 2020. Barry also confirmed with CJ he is preparing for a possible run.