Mark Harris and Ted Alexander, two of five Republicans vying for a U.S. Senate seat, made their candidacy official.
Monday marked the official start to the 2014 campaign season when candidate filing began. Doors opened to federal, state and county candidates at noon and will close noon Feb. 28.
Shortly after the filing period opened, 60 candidates were lined up and more were expected later Monday.
Five Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination and to unseat incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat from Greensboro. The other three Republican candidates are Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon and Heather Grant. A sixth candidate, Bill Flynn, withdrew from the race last month. Harris and Flynn will hold a press conference together at 3 p.m., at which Flynn is expected to endorse Harris’s candidacy.
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Harris said that although some label him as a candidate who will draw the votes of the evangelical community, he rejects that assessment and refuses to concede the votes of the business community or the tea party.
“I’m going to be able to build that bridge and unify the Republican party to take on Kay Hagan effectively,” he said.
Harris came to Raleigh to file papers with his wife. He is a Winston Salem native who is currently the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte. Alexander is the former mayor of Shelby and announced his candidacy early last month.
Then, he said he brings to the table local elected experience, a conservative fiscal and social ideology and insight into the “heart of North Carolina” as a native.
Harris, whose wife and daughter are teachers, called the plan from Republican state leaders – including rival Tillis – to increase teacher pay “a step in the right direction.”
“I believe that the legislature needs to take a look at how we’ve shortchanged our teachers,” he said.