Recount request filed in District 9 GOP primary race


By William R. Toler - [email protected]



William R. Toler | Daily Journal Charlotte pastor Mark Harris, left, filed for a recount in the race against Rep. Robert Pittenger for the N.C. 9th Congressional District. Pittenger won the primary last week by less than one percent.


ROCKINGHAM — The Republican race for a new congressional district that will include Richmond County is not over yet, after a primary challenger filed for a recount.

The Rev. Mark Harris, a senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, officially gave his written request to state elections officials on Wednesday, according to Connie Kelly, county elections director.

Harris was one of two candidates challenging Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-Charlotte, for the newly created N.C. 9th Congressional District, which — in addition to Richmond and part of Mecklenburg counties — comprises Union, Anson, Scotland and Robeson counties, as well as parts of Cumberland and Bladen counties.

Todd Johnson, owner of an Insurance company with offices throughout the district, was the other challenger.

State leaders redrew the maps in February after a federal court ruled that two North Carolina congressional districts, the 1st and 12th, were gerrymandered based on race.

During last week’s primary election, Johnson carried a majority of the rural areas, including Richmond and his home county of Union.

Early poll results showed him leading the race, but the numbers for Pittenger and Harris began to rise as precincts in Mecklenburg county began reporting.

When the night was over, Pittenger was declared the winner with 135 more votes than Harris — the margin of votes less than 1 percent of the total votes cast.

Following this week’s canvassing, Harris’ votes in Richmond County totaled 223, including two absentee ballots, one provisional ballot and 53 early voting ballots, according to records from the Richmond County Board of Elections.

Harris announced plans to file for a recount the day following the election.

“The voters of the 9th Congressional District have spoken: it’s time for a change in Washington,” he said in a statement to the Daily Journal last week. “We owe it to the voters of the 9th District to make sure this is done right and make sure every last voice is heard.”

The Pittenger camp responded to Wednesday’s recount request with the following statement: “Given the official canvas yesterday and the integrity of our election process, we have full confidence that a recount will not alter the course of this election.”

The Richmond County Board of Elections will conduct a recount on Monday, starting at 10 a.m., according to a notice sent out by Kelly late Wednesday afternoon.

The winner of the primary will go on to face Democrat Christian Cano in November.

Former state senator Gene McLaurin and Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue had considered running for the seat in the Democratic primary, but backed out before the filing deadline.

When the maps were redrawn, state Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, said the 9th District “will be a district Democrats could conceivably win.”

Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.

William R. Toler | Daily Journal Charlotte pastor Mark Harris, left, filed for a recount in the race against Rep. Robert Pittenger for the N.C. 9th Congressional District. Pittenger won the primary last week by less than one percent.
http://yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/web1_harris_pittenger.jpgWilliam R. Toler | Daily Journal Charlotte pastor Mark Harris, left, filed for a recount in the race against Rep. Robert Pittenger for the N.C. 9th Congressional District. Pittenger won the primary last week by less than one percent.

By William R. Toler

[email protected]

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