Candidate in Disputed Election Says Urge to See Clemson-Alabama Game Made It Seem He Was Running From Reporters

January 9, 2019

By Mark Price And Ely Portillo

Republican Mark Harris, left, and his attorney David Freedman leave after speaking with the media following a meeting with state election investigators on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 at the Dobbs Building in Raleigh, N.C. (Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Republican 9th District candidate Mark Harris’ abrupt departure from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center Monday night set off a fire alarm while reporters chased him through an emergency exit.

On social media, Harris issued an explanation that contradicts TV reports that he was dodging the media.

He tweeted late Monday that he was hurrying — like countless other Carolinians — to see the Clemson Tigers play the Alabama Crimson Tide for the national championship.

“Sorry I missed you guys tonight,” Harris tweeted. “I had to get to the kickoff of the National Championship game. We’ll have plenty to talk about in the days ahead.”

Harris was at the Government Center attending a meeting of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party.

As Harris exited the conference room shortly before 7:30 p.m., a half-dozen reporters, including a Charlotte Observer reporter, were waiting to speak with him. Instead of walking past the group to the lobby, Harris exited through an emergency stairwell door, setting off an alarm.

An unidentified man blocked the exit at one point, to keep reporters from following.

WSOC reporter Joe Bruno called the exit “bizarre.”

Harris hurried across Third Street and got into a car in the First Baptist Church rear parking lot — where he was formerly the pastor — and drove away.

Harris’ Democratic 9th District competitor, Dan McCready, joined TV stations in their interpretation of the quick exit and tweeted: “Mark Harris can run from the media, but he can’t hide from the truth. The people deserve answers.”

The U.S. House race between Harris and McCready remains unresolved because of vote fraud allegations.

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©2019 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com

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