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View from the Hill

Profile: Harris touts his personal convictions

This is the third in a series of profiles on the 2014 U.S. Senate Candidates on View from the Hill. Links to previous profiles are at the end of this post.

Mark Harris said he is running for U.S. Senate to restore leadership to Washington and because he cares deeply about the direction in which the United States is going.

“The real concern was that we have leaders in the federal government that don’t seem to care anymore,” Harris said. “I do care, I care about my family, I care about this state and I care about this nation.”

Harris, the outgoing  president of North Carolina Baptist State Convention and senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charlotte, is running for the Republican nomination to unseat Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., in the general election.

While Harris has not held political office before, he said his convictions make him a strong alternative to Hagan and his eight primary opponents.

“Voting records can be based on political calculation,” Harris said. “But I bring a life record marked by character, consistency and courage.”

Harris said he values public education — all of his kids attended public high schools and he, his wife and all his children except one have attended public universities in the state. Harris went to Appalachian State University.

Harris said there should be a focus on increasing options for college students and affordability.

“Until we start operating within a budget, we can’t make these tough decisions like we need to,” he said. “When we get a budget, financial aid programs should be a high priority.”

Harris entered the state political scene in 2011 as a strong proponent of Amendment One, which made marriage between a man and woman the only legally recognized union in the state. Harris was a founding member of Vote for Marriage N.C.

Many conservative voters remembered this, and last April, thousands petitioned him to run for Senate.

He has received endorsements from evangelical leaders and organizations, including the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate Mike Huckabee and former Congressman and N.C. Republican Party chairman Robin Hayes.

Harris said seeing other states’ same-sex marriage bans overturned by federal courts concerns him, and if, as Senator, he hears testimony on confirming judges, he will consider how they view the judicial branch.

“The concerns I have for any marriage amendment in any state where it was approved by a vast majority of the people is that a federal judge would then overturn it,” Harris said. “I’m going to look at their record to see if they are going to be an activist rather than stick to the Constitution.”

Harris is tied for  fourth among the GOP hopefuls at 7 percent — six percentage points behind N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon, according to Public Policy Polling.

He is tied with Kay Hagan in a projected head to head match-up at 43 points each. The Harris campaign has not yet had to release any financial statements.

Harris has a strong base of support with evangelicals who have heard his message and know about his advocacy for Amendment One — but his challenge will be expanding support among all voters.

Read the other Senate profiles by clicking on the buttons below! And be sure to check out the voter's guide for information on Orange County candidates. Early voting ends May 3, and the primary election is May 6.

senate prof clicker

Kay Hagan Mark Harris Heather Grant Greg Brannon Will Stewart Ted Alexander Alex Bradshaw Ernest Reeves Sean Haugh

View from the Hill is a political blog by Daily Tar Heel staff writers. Any opinion expressed in it does not represent the Daily Tar Heel. Email the blog coordinator at dthviewfromthehill@gmail.com.

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