CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After Republican 9th Congressional District candidate Mark Harris finished addressing Mecklenburg County Republicans at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center Monday night, reporters, including Eyewitness News reporter Joe Bruno, tried to ask him questions.
To avoid the media, Mark Harris ran down a fire exit staircase. A man tried to prevent us from following but we still did. The alarm went off as he ran out. When media caught up he sprinted across the street to the First Baptist Church of Charlotte's parking lot #NC09 @wsoctv pic.twitter.com/vDFca16EYx
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) January 8, 2019
Harris and a group of three or four other people used a fire exit to leave the Government Center as reporters attempted to ask questions.
After Harris opened the door on the ground level, an alarm sounded.
An unidentified man tried to block reporters from using the fire escape to follow Harris. When questioned if he worked for the city, the man allowed reporters to pursue the politician.
Reporters continued to volley questions at Harris after he exited through the fire escape, but he sprinted across East 3rd Street and into the parking lot of the First Baptist Church of Charlotte, where he used to be a pastor.
Harris then got into a car which sped off in the opposite direction of reporters.
After the bizarre exit, in a tweet to Eyewitness News Reporter Joe Bruno, Harris said he had to get home to watch the college football National Championship game.
“Hey man,” Harris said. “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. #GoTigers.”
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNC9) January 8, 2019
Harris’ Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, also commented on Harris’ departure.
“Mark Harris can run from the media, but he can’t hide from the truth,” McCready said. “The people deserve answers.”
Mark Harris can run from the media, but he can’t hide from the truth. The people deserve answers. https://t.co/gU56PpWL4c
— Dan McCready (@McCreadyForNC) January 8, 2019
Security officers confirmed the exit Harris used was an emergency exit.
As the frmr longtime NC State Fire Marshal (& Insurance Commissioner) that I am, the behavior of @MarkHarrisNC9 using the emergency fire exit 2 escape the press is quite appalling & shd set off yet another alarm for #nc09 #ncpol watchers. @JoeBrunoWSOC9 @wsoctv @NCDemParty
— Wayne Goodwin (@WayneGoodwinNC) January 8, 2019
Because the 9th District election hasn’t been certified, more than 780,000 people living in the district are not represented in Washington.
The investigation centers around fraud allegations involving absentee ballots.
Politico reported House Democrats are preparing to launch their own investigation into the election.
That could pave the way for a new election in the district, even if a court orders the Board of Elections to certify Harris the winner.