Mark Harris stops by Lenoir in last days of primary

Apr. 30, 2014 @ 11:27 AM

With Election Day a week away and the early voting period halfway through, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Harris stopped by Lenoir to speak with Caldwell County voters headed to the polls Tuesday afternoon.

Harris visited the early voting site at the Alden E. Starnes County Office Plaza in downtown Lenoir, part of a day that included stops in Lincolnton, Newton, Taylorsville, Statesville and Charlotte as he hopes to connect with voters before the primaries are decided May 6.

His stop here was fresh off a feisty showing in the last of three debates for the Republican primary field. N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis is believed to be the frontrunner, followed by Harris and Greg Brannon, who have challenged Tillis from the right. In Monday night's debate, unlike the first two, Harris took an aggressive approach against Brannon and Tillis to cast himself as the true conservative choice in the primary.

When it comes to debates, his campaign's strategy all along has been to answer the questions asked, Harris said, but it's difficult to distinguish himself from the other candidates in the 45 to 60 seconds alotted to answer those complex questions. But he said he had a better opportunity Monday.

Harris challenged Tillis and Brannon’s electability, due to “baggage” they carry that incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan will surely use against them in the general election.

Harris cited Brannon’s lack of support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 and a recent lawsuit in which a court ruled he misled investors and ordered him to pay $450,000 in restitution, court fees and other expenses.

For Tillis, Harris cited pay-to-play allegations stemming from an email to Republican leadership explaining that Tillis supported a Democrat for the N.C. Board of Governors because he had contributed to Tillis’ campaign as well as other campaigns.

“My concern is that Kay Hagan is going to have a field day with that,” Harris said.

In the time remaining until May 6, Harris said his campaign is focusing on growing his name recognition.

A Civitas Poll that came out on Tuesday showed Harris pulling in front of Brannon. Tillis led with 27 percent, with Harris at 16 and Brannon at 13 percent.

Early voting ends at 1 p.m. Saturday. Polls will be open on Election Day, May 6, 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.