Monday, 19 March 2018 05:06

Feature Series - Mark Harris, Candidate for US 9th Congressional District Seat

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Mark Harris, candidate for US 9th Congressional District, addresses The Richmond County Republican Convention                     Mark Harris, candidate for US 9th Congressional District, addresses The Richmond County Republican Convention Photo by Chuck Thames

ROCKINGHAM- Rev. Mark Harris, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte, is running for the US Congress as Representative of the North Carolina 9th District.  He is running against incumbent Robert Pittenger and newcomer Clarence Goins.  The district includes South Mecklenburg, Union, Anson, Richmond, Scotland, and Robeson Counties as well as portions of Cumberland and Bladen Counties.

Harris recently spoke to local Republicans at the Richmond County 2018 GOP Convention. Harris began by talking about his previous bid for the seat when he and Todd Johnson ran against then two-term incumbent Robert Pittenger in 2016. According to Harris, the final result in that primary election showed, “Mr. Pittenger defeated me by 134 votes.”    

Harris, who has been serving in the ministry for over 30 years and as senior pastor for First Baptist Church of Charlotte for the last 12 1/2 years, spoke of his decision to run for Congress again.  He said,  “After taking a year to really pray and seek the heart and face of God about what He would have us do, because we knew in our hearts that for me to take this step of faith this time we were going to put ourselves all in and I was going to step down and resign as senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Charlotte. That is the decision we ultimately came to, sensing the call of God in our hearts.”

Reflecting on his dad, Harris shared, “My dad is my hero.”  He told his dad’s story noting that his mom (Harris’ grandmother) had died when his dad was six years old.  The elder Harris’ father was an alcoholic who dropped him off at his aunt’s house because he could not take care of a six year old.  Ultimately, she also realized she couldn’t take care of him either, so Harris’ father, at the age of six, was dropped off at the Methodist Children’s Home in Winston-Salem. 

Harris’ father graduated from high school and went into the military in World War II.  While flying a bombing run over Eastern Europe, his plane was shot down over Holland, which at the time was occupied by Germany.  One solider of the eight on board died on impact, the others, including Harris’ dad, were captured and taken to a Nazi war camp.  In that camp, his dad was marched over 700 miles during his captivity.  His dad came out of that camp at the end of the war weighing just 125 pounds and, according to Harris, he came out of this life event just as he came out of his time in the children's home: “Not bitter, but better.”  

Harris reflected on a recent conversation he had with his father. His dad, when told his youngest child would be running for Congress said, “Son, just be careful.”  Harris was taken aback by his father’s advice considering all the challenges he has faced and addressed in his life.  Harris told his dad, “This is the time for my generation to step up to the plate and take the risk.”    

“That’s why I’m running for Congress,” said Harris.  He went on to say, “I believe we’ve had leaders in Washington, D.C. for far too long that are more concerned about their next re-election bid than they are of doing what’s best and right for America.”  

Harris reminded the crowd gathered that the Constitution of the United States says that the power of the purse rests in the United States House of Representatives.  “We’ve (Republican Party) had control of the House of Representatives for the entire time our 9th District congressman has served in the U.S. House of Representatives. The whole time he’s been in the majority party.” According to Harris, this time, the national debt has increased from $16 trillion to now more than $21 trillion.

“I support the tax cut bill and I would have voted for it,”  but Harris said there should have been cuts in spending to pay for it.  He noted that,  “We can’t keep cutting taxes without cutting spending if we’re going to be responsible to the next generation.”   

Harris was born and raised in Winston-Salem, N.C.  He said he grew up in the era of Senator Jesse Helms in North Carolina. Helms had a vision of Republicans shrinking the size of government and not letting it get larger, according to Harris. 

“Today, whether you have an (R) by your name or a (D) by your name, in Congress it seems they are all interested in growing government larger and larger,” said Harris. 

“I want to go to Washington, D.C. and be your representative; we were so close last time and we feel like we can get over the finish line this time,” concluded Harris. 


Editor’s note: This is the final feature article on each candidate’s speeches from the March Richmond County Republican Convention recently held in Rockingham.  The Richmond Observer will continue to bring you updates on the 2018 election campaigns. 

Last modified on Saturday, 17 March 2018 21:01