Former Pastor’s Election to House Still Uncertain in North Carolina Race

Amid allegations of election fraud, N.C. congressional candidate Mark Harris, a former pastor, says he is unaware of wrongdoing by anyone associated with his campaign. Screen capture from CNN

On election night, it appeared former Southern Baptist pastor Mark Harris finally had fulfilled a years-long sense of calling by being elected to Congress. But a month later, North Carolina’s State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has yet to certify Harris’ narrow victory in the state’s 9th Congressional District amid allegations of election fraud.

The Harris campaign told Baptist Press Dec. 4 Harris has never been aware of any wrongdoing associated with his campaign and expects all volunteers and staff to be above board in their behavior. Harris trusts the election process and God’s sovereign guidance of it, the campaign said. They added that the allegations surrounding Harris have not shaken his faith and may even have deepened his relationship with Christ.

In June 2017, Harris resigned the pastorate of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., to run for Congress in the 9th District. Previously, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Harris was president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina from 2011-13 and served on the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention Resolutions Committee.

Attack ads during the campaign have focused at times on Harris’ preaching about biblical gender roles.

According to unofficial 2018 general election results, Harris, a Republican, defeated Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes out of nearly 283,000 total votes cast in the 9th District. But the Board of Elections voted Nov. 30 by a 7-2 margin not to certify the results due to “claims of irregularities and fraudulent activities” involving absentee ballots, according to media reports.

The board has not disclosed details of the alleged irregularities and has set a Dec. 21 deadline to hold an evidentiary hearing.

Harris criticized the board in a Nov. 30 tweet for not providing “any details to the public as to what exactly is being investigated.”

Media coverage has focused on rural Bladen County, which is being investigated by other state authorities for alleged election tampering in 2016 and 2018, the political news site Roll Call reported.

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Source: Baptist Press