Reporters were waiting for Mark Harris, the GOP candidate in North Carolina’s still-disputed race to represent the 9th Congressional District, when he emerged from a government building after a meeting with fellow Republicans on Monday evening.
Harris very much did not want to chat.
The pastor turned politician ran through an emergency exit, triggering the alarm, and sprinted across the street to a church parking lot, according to reporter Joe Bruno of WSOC, a local news channel.
Whether Harris or Democratic candidate Dan McCready will represent the state’s 9th District in Congress is still undecided, as investigations into possible illegal activity during the November midterm elections enter the third month.
Bruno shared a brief video of the pursuit on Twitter. When Harris reached the First Baptist Church of Charlotte, where he used to be a pastor, he got into a car and sped away, Bruno noted.
Harris later responded on Twitter that he was actually running to watch a college football game, rather than to avoid questions from the news media.
“Hey man,” the candidate wrote, “Sorry I missed you guys tonight. I had to get to the kickoff of the #NationalChampionship game. We’ll have plenty to talk about in the days ahead.”
McCready also chimed in on his opponent’s strange exit.
“Mark Harris can run from the media, but he can’t hide from the truth,” McCready tweeted. “The people deserve answers.”
Harris leads McCready by just over 900 votes, but the state board of elections refused to certify the results. Democrats in the House of Representatives have refused to seat Harris until the election is resolved, which means the nearly 780,000 residents of the district have no House representation for now.
The election dispute stems from irregularities involving absentee ballots. In two counties, Bladen and Robeson, a suspiciously high number of people requested to vote absentee and then did not turn their ballots in.
North Carolina officials appear to be investigating whether absentee ballots were illegally collected by people working to elect Harris.
Adding to the uncertainty, the state dissolved its elections board late last month before it could certify the election results. A new board won’t be appointed until Jan. 31, the Charlotte Observer reported last week.