CLEMMONS, N.C. (BP) — North Carolina pastor Mark Harris has declared his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, joining a race that now has at least three other Republicans who are vying for the seat held by Democrat incumbent Kay Hagen.
Harris is pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and is completing his second term as president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Harris, speaking in Clemmons to draft committee participants who had worked 90 days to explore his potential candidacy, described them as “people that … caught the vision and carried it across the state.”
“We began with 70 people in Charlotte … and we now have 26,000 on the database list,” Harris said.
Harris and his wife Beth spoke to the participants Sept. 12, with an official announcement scheduled for Oct. 2 when they will begin in Asheville and make several stops across the state.
Beth Harris told the group how God brought her to a point of “complete excitement, looking forward to this journey, really, really believing that this is God’s will.”
“The Lord gave me complete peace that Mark is not stepping down, he is not stepping away from anything God has called him to,” she said.
Asking God, “Why Mark?” she read Scripture, prayed and saw “the kind of preparation God has given Mark in ministry is the kind of leadership that is needed in a legislative body.”
In traveling across the state, Harris said he has learned that “people really do want a candidate they can believe in. They really do want a candidate who is marked by character — someone who does not have to get up in the morning and read the newspaper to figure out what they believe. Someone that does not have to turn on the news and hear what the latest poll is saying to determine how they are going to vote or how they’re going to stand that day.
“They are looking for somebody that has a core that has been built in their life, not from [several] terms of public office, but a core that has been built up over a lifetime, that’s marked by character.”
Harris was heavily involved in North Carolina’s marriage amendment referendum in 2012.
Harris’ church is giving him “a sabbatical leave mixed with a personal leave of absence,” developed by the church’s personnel committee, unanimously approved by the finance committee and the deacons and affirmed by the church in a public vote. The plan calls for Harris to devote his full attention to the campaign from Dec. 1 through the primary in May.
Jim Henry, retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando Fla., will be filling the Charlotte pulpit during Harris’ absence.
K. Allan Blume is editor of Biblical Recorder (www.brnow.org), newsjournal of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention.