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Draft building for Rev. Mark Harris Senate bid

By Jim Morrill
jmorrill@charlotteobserver.com

Poll

Should the Rev. Mark Harris run for the U.S. Senate?

Rev. Mark Harris, the pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church, said Monday he’s listening to those who want him to run for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination next year.

Harris met in Charlotte last week with about 70 people from around 20 North Carolina counties who are trying to draft him to run.

“I’m certainly humbled and flattered by the confidence that these folks have expressed,” he said. “It’s a little bit overwhelming to be honest. Right now we’re doing two things. One … doing a lot of listening to people and the second and most importantly to me is just to pray and seek God’s leadership … and see if that’s his plan for me.”

Harris announced that to his congregation at the end of Sunday’s church service, and walked off to a standing ovation.

Republicans will choose a nominee a year from now in the GOP primary to challenge Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan. House Speaker Thom Tillis, Senate President Phil Berger, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and former Charlotte City Council member Lynn Wheeler are considering the race.

Last year Harris, president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, campaigned heavily for Amendment One, which recognizes marriage between a man and a woman as the only valid union recognized in the state.

He has hosted Republican precinct meetings at his church and last year brought in a number of prominent conservative speakers, including former presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

It was around the first of April that Harris met with GOP consultant Tom Perdue of Atlanta, onetime chief strategist for former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes, now the state’s Republican chairman.

Last week Perdue helped orchestrate the meeting at a Hampton Inn in Charlotte. He said he’s helping gauge the strength of any grassroots movement for a Harris candidacy. That was the message he left with those who attended.

“Go write your neighbors and coworkers and see if there is a groundswell of people who want a godly man like this to run for public office,” Perdue recalled. “I did make clear the goal is not to get Mark to run for the U.S. Senate. The goal is to get Mark to do God’s will for his life. And everybody left with that.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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