Charlotte pastor Mark Harris is expected to announce his entry into the GOP primary for US Senate on October 2. Robin Hayes is chairing his campaign, while Tom Perdue is serving as campaign consultant. Now comes word that a player at NCGOP HQ during Hayes’ reign as NCGOP chairman is joining the Harris campaign:
Rev. Mark Harris won’t officially enter North Carolina’s U.S, Senate race until next week. But he’s already snared another former official of the state Republican Party to run his campaign.
Harris announced that Mike Rusher will manage his campaign. Rusher, former chief of staff for the state GOP, joins former state party chairman Robin Hayes, who will co-chair the Harris campaign.
Harris is pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He plans a fly-around announcement tour on Oct. 2, starting in Wilmington and ending in Charlotte.
This whole thing inspires a number of questions that a journalist — with at least one ounce of integrity — ought to be asking Harris or digging into:
1. Who is paying Perdue’s fee? Ol’ Tom does not come cheap. Harris is not officially a candidate. I’d be surprised if Perdue’s fee falls within the personal budget of a Baptist preacher.
2. Why is Robin Hayes splitting with Thom Tillis? The pair were so close while Hayes was party chairman and Tillis was speaker. Hayes even worked hard to promote Tillis at this year’s state party convention. What’s changed?
3. How is this whole political campaigning thing going to work while Harris is presiding over a non-profit church organization? Will he step down? Will this cause problems with taxing authorities? I’m sure there are Democrats within the Southern Baptist Convention. Will this campaign cause internal strife within the church?
4. Announcement fly-around? WHO is paying for / providing the plane?