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Five years later, Mark Harris files for another run at Congress

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(The Center Square) – Mark Harris, the Baptist preacher brought to tears at a state Board of Elections hearing following the 2018 election fiasco in southeastern North Carolina, is making a second run at Congress.

The Republican from Indian Trail is seeking the 8th Congressional District seat.

His filing came in the same 24-hour window of backroom maneuvers that changed who Democrats will push for insurance commissioner; a state lawmaker opting not to try for the congressional seat being vacated by the U.S. House of Representatives’ speaker pro tempore; and the King, Richard Petty, offering endorsement shortly after Southern Pines Republican Christian Castelli filed for the 6th Congressional District seat.

The 2018 election was marred by a ballot harvesting scheme, centered mostly in Bladenboro where the late McCrae Dowless and 10 others were eventually charged with election crimes. Harris was not charged – his campaign employed Dowless – and at the state board hearing told the panel he wasn’t sure who rightfully won. He said throughout he was unaware of what Dowless was doing.

Harris had garnered the most votes against Democrat Dan McCready in November 2018, but that election result and two others on the county level were never certified. Harris didn’t run in the 2019 redo, but McCready did – losing to then-state Sen. Dan Bishop 50.7%-48.7%.

The investigation brought unwanted attention to Bladen County, including national reporting by newspapers in Washington and New York, and network television coverage.

North Carolinians in 2024 will elect 14 members to the U.S. House of Representatives for two-year terms. The U.S. Senate seats are not on the ballot again until 2026 (Sen. Thom Tillis) and 2028 (Sen. Ted Budd).

All 170 seats in the General Assembly (two-year terms) will be on the ballot, as are the 10 Council of State offices (four-year terms). This includes the governor; lieutenant governor; attorney general; commissioners of agriculture and insurance; the secretaries of state and labor; auditor; treasurer; and superintendent of public instruction.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is in his second four-year term, the limit of consecutive terms allowed.

There will be at least six people in new positions within the Council of State. In addition to the governor, the lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, and labor commissioner are either not running for reelection or are running for different offices.

The 2024 election primary is part of Super Tuesday on March 5, along with 12 other states. The general election is Nov. 5. The filing period closes at noon Friday.

All filings are available to the public through the state Board of Elections website. The following are notable filings for Monday:

• U.S. House District 6: Republican Christian Castelli.

• U.S. House District 8: Republican Mark Harris.

• U.S. House District 9: Republican Troy Tarazon.

• U.S. House District 10: Republican Grey Mills.

• U.S. House District 14: Republican Jeff Gregory.

• Lieutenant governor: Republican Hal Weatherman.

• Superintendent of public instruction: Republicans Catherine Truitt, the incumbent, and Michele Morrow.

• State House of Representatives: Speculation there would be a change by Republican Rep. Jason Saine to not run in District 97 and instead run for Congress were squashed by his statement released Monday morning. Saine filed on the first day of filing before U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry’s retirement announcement, which prompted consideration.

States that join North Carolina in holding primaries for both parties on Super Tuesday are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia. Iowa, which has the Republican caucus on Jan. 15, has the Democratic primary on March 5.

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