Pittenger vs. the Preacher (Round Two)

by | Jul 10, 2017 | 2018 elections, Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, Politics | 5 comments

Robert Pittenger has a tough primary on his hands. Mark Harris, a socially conservative Baptist preacher, heavily involved with the marriage amendment and HB 2, plans to challenge the incumbent congressman once again for the GOP nomination. Last year, Pittenger prevailed over Harris in a three-candidate primary by 134 votes – thanks to a big margin out of his home county of Mecklenburg. Pittenger went on to win an easy victory in the general election over LGBT activist Christian Cano.

There’s good news and bad news for both contenders.

First, Pittenger is no longer the subject of an FBI probe. That’s good news for Pittenger and diminishes Harris’s “integrity” argument.

The second piece of good news for the congressman is that voters in the district (which was completely redrawn last year) are more familiar with him now. This will truly be an incumbent vs. challenger situation, unlike last year when it was more of an open seat race.

Now, the good news for Harris. Last year’s primary featured a third candidate, Union County Commissioner Todd Johnson. His supporters will be up for grabs. If Harris can consolidate the anti-Pittenger vote, he can win. Could another candidate possibly enter the fray and complicate things?

Barring that, the question is how much Pittenger can grow his support from the last primary. Next year’s primary should see higher turnout. Is that good or bad for him? If no candidate clears 40%, then there will be a runoff. Did the lack of a runoff help or hurt Pittenger last year?

Harris is a potentially strong candidate because he’s an outsider and a member of an occupation that GOP voters look very kindly upon. That same combination worked awfully well for another Baptist preacher, an outsider, who became a member of Congress – Mark Walker.

Still, I’d have to give Pittenger the edge. He’s in a better position than he was last time around. And it’s still hard to beat an incumbent congressman.


  1. Jim Bartow

    Democrats are excited about Iraq veteran and solar energy businessman Dan McCready and LGBT activist Christian Cano who will be running in the 9th.

  2. Christian cano

    Just a few corrections. Harris has not announced he is running or filed FEC documents. Johnson has filed FEC documents to run again. You may need to do a little more research.
    Also, LOL… Thank you for the plug. We’re not sure where you get that I am an LGBTQ activist; but, we’ll take the compliment since it shows our diversity and ability to beat Pittenger or any radical religious opposition. SMH. You’re attempt to put us in a small box or marginalized our efforts was just a little silly in 2017!
    Finally, check with Thomas Mills about getting “easily beat” in the general election. We received more votes and way way way less money was wasted. We do hope he will get a job consulting for our opposition that he is endorsing. LOL. SMH!

  3. willard cottrell

    Like it or not these so-called christians are hateful SOBs. Not one lick of an understanding of Jesus. They are the bane on our society. Anyone that votes for this type of christian isn’t a christian by the definition of such by JC himself in the Sermon on the Mt. Too bad christians are too pusillanimous to stand up for their man.

  4. Bob

    There is only one thing worse than Bob Pittenger in Congress – Mark Harris in Congress.

  5. Dwight Willis

    Either way the voters lose. It matters little if they exchange one right-wing extremist beholden to Paul Ryan for another right-wing extremist beholden to Mark Meadows. The voters will be better served if they can find a strong Democratic challenger who can return reason and moderation to NC politics. It’s a sad day for NC when Robert Pittenger is the better choice. Charlotte/Mecklenburg deserve so much more.

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