Under the Dome

He lost by 134 votes in 2016. He’ll challenge an incumbent congressman again in 2018.

9th Congressional District candidate Rev. Mark Harris speaks to his supporters during a rally in Matthews on April 21,2016.
9th Congressional District candidate Rev. Mark Harris speaks to his supporters during a rally in Matthews on April 21,2016. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Mark Harris lost his bid for the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 9th District by just 134 votes in 2016.

He’ll try again in 2018.

Harris, a Baptist pastor, lost to Rep. Robert Pittenger in a tight, three-way race in the Republican primary last year. Pittenger received 9,299 votes to Harris’ 9,165, while Todd Johnson received 8,142 votes.

Pittenger cruised past Democratic candidate Christian Cano in the general election, winning more than 58 percent of the vote in the district, which stretches from Fayetteville to the southern Mecklenberg county along the South Carolina border.

Less than two months after resigning after 12 years as senior pastor at First Baptist Charlotte, Harris officially launched his campaign. He released a nearly four-minute video, outlining his priorities.

“Our country was founded by ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things,” Harris said in the video. “America can not survive many more years of career politicians putting their ambitions ahead of the best interests of our country.”

In the video, Harris called for real term limits, a military second to none, an end to Obamacare, cuts to federal spending on “silly programs,” real tax reform and fewer regulations and lower taxes. The video included images of Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump while talking about sending citizens to Washington.

“None of this is going to happen if we keep sending the same people back to Washington,” Harris said.

Pittenger is a third-term congressman.

Harris is the fifth candidate to declare their candidacy in the district.

Democratic candidate Dan McCready has raised more than $459,000. Cano, who lost in the general election, and Maria Collins Warren are also competing for the Democratic nomination.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has targeted the 9th District as one of its key districts for flipping the U.S. House. Three North Carolina seats were on the original list, including the seats held by Richard Hudson (8th District in south central N.C.) and Ted Budd (13th District south and west of Greensboro). The 2nd District seat held by George Holding, which includes parts of Wake, Johnston, Harnett and Franklin counties, was added to the DCCC’s list which now includes 79 seats.