Former North Carolina Pastor Mark Harris Unseats Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger

Former pastor and Baptist State Convention of North Carolina president Mark Harris has become the first congressional candidate this year to force an incumbent out of office.

Harris — who resigned the pastorate of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., last year to focus on a run for the U.S. House of Representatives — defeated three-term U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger May 8 by a 49-46 margin in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 9th District.

“From the beginning, this race has been about giving the people of this district a voice,” Harris told supporters on Election Night, according to video from Charlotte’s WSOC-TV. “You have stood up tonight across the 9th District, and you have made that voice loud and clear.”

Harris challenged Pittenger in the 2016 GOP primary and lost by 134 votes out of approximately 26,000, setting up this year’s rematch. Harris finished third in the 2012 primary for one of North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seats.

According to The Washington Post, Pittenger was endorsed this year by House Speaker Paul Ryan among other Republican establishment figures and shared a stage with Vice President Mike Pence last month. Harris was endorsed by the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund and, according to The Charlotte Observer, he “ran as much against the GOP-controlled Congress as Pittenger.”

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Source: Baptist Press