Conservative Challenger Mark Harris Unseats Republican Rep. Bob Pittenger in North Carolina


Rev. Mark Harris, a conservative pastor, succeeded Tuesday in his second attempt to unseat Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) in North Carolina’s Ninth District.

The contest was an exceedingly close and hard-fought one. With all votes counted, Harris topped Pittenger 48.5 to 46.2 percent, a margin of just over 800 votes.

Harris, running to Pittenger’s right, slammed the incumbent on his support for the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill the GOP-controlled Congress passed in March. The bill, which expanded deficits and maintained funding for liberal sacred cows like Planned Parenthood, but denied President Donald Trump funding for his signature border wall and failed to authorize other anti-illegal immigration efforts like penalties for so-called “sanctuary cities,” became deeply unpopular among conservatives. Democrats, meanwhile, touted the spending bill as a victory.

“When I look at the kind of votes that Rep. Pittenger is bringing forth with his support of the Omnibus bill, the $1.3 trillion bill, was just disgraceful and in no way lines up with where the 9th District of North Carolina is,” Harris told Breitbart News Washington Political Editor Matt Boyle on Breitbart News Sunday last month.

Harris had previously cast his incumbent opponent as an ally of anti-Trump operative and engineer of President George W. Bush’s campaigns Karl Rove. Pittenger, who supported Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the 2016 North Carolina GOP presidential primary, did not help the perception of anti-Trumpist sentiments when he called the president’s plan for a wall on the southern border a “euphemism” that “would be impossible because of the topography” last October.

Harris also did not support Trump in the primaries, but actively campaigned for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Pittenger, in the intervening time, did ally with the president to block the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to a Chinese company.

Harris came within a hair’s breadth of defeating Pittenger in the same contest in 2016, losing – after a recount – by just half of one percent of the vote. This time around, Pittenger, first elected in 2012, conceded shortly after 10:00 p.m. Eastern time:

“I congratulate Mark Harris on his primary election victory tonight. His conservative values and his strong faith make him a great fit for this district. He has my support and I look forward to working with him to ensure we keep the district red in November,” Steve Stivers, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), said in a statement after Pittenger conceded. “I also thank Congressman Robert Pittenger for his tireless advocacy on behalf of North Carolina’s 9th district. I wish him and his family the best of luck in their future endeavors.”


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