Raleigh, N.C. — Another member of the state’s Republican establishment is backing Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte for the nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan next year.
Mike Rusher will serve as campaign manager for Harris’ primary bid, Harris consultant Tom Perdue said Tuesday.
"Mike’s got respect with lots of audiences, and he’s very knowledgeable about North Carolina politics," Perdue said. "He and Mark just hit it off."
Rusher most recently served as chief of operations and chief of staff at the state Republican Party. He was the Republican National Committee’s “victory director” in North Carolina for the 2012 election cycle. Before that, he directed constituent services for state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
Berger had been weighing entering the U.S. Senate race for months, but he announced Monday that he would not seek the nomination.
Harris also has the backing of former state GOP chairman and congressman Robin Hayes, who’s serving as his campaign chairman.
"It kind of completes the circle in our campaign. Robin Hayes introduced me to Mark, and then he introduced me to Mike," Perdue said. "It’s a perfect fit."
Harris has not yet officially announced his candidacy. Perdue says Harris will make his announcement in early October.
House Speaker Thom Tillis announced months ago that he would seek the Senate nomination, but state GOP stalwarts have been relatively cool so far to his candidacy.