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9th District candidate Mark Harris ducks out fire exit to avoid reporters

Posted January 8, 2019 2:11 p.m. EST
Updated January 8, 2019 9:15 p.m. EST

— Republican 9th Congressional District candidate Mark Harris managed to evade a gaggle of reporters in Charlotte on Monday night by using a fire exit and later said he didn't want to miss the kickoff of the NCAA Football Championship game.

Harris, who wants a court to declare him the winner of the 9th District race amid a state investigation into alleged absentee ballot fraud, was at a meeting of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party.

Reporters waited outside the meeting to talk with him about the ongoing State Board of Elections investigation, but he ducked out a fire exit, setting off an alarm as he headed down a staircase and outside.

Reporters followed Harris outside, but he ran across the street to his former church, First Baptist Church of Charlotte, where he got into a car and drove off.

In response to tweets about the incident, Harris later tweeted out an excuse for his actions.

"Sorry I missed you guys tonight. I had to get to the kickoff of the #NationalChampionship game," he wrote in the tweet, referring to the Alabama-Clemson football game.

"We'll have plenty to talk about in the days ahead. #GoTigers," he wrote.

Democrat Dan McCready, who appeared to lose the 9th District race to Harris by about 900 votes, tweeted out his own reaction.

"Mark Harris can run from the media, but he can't hide from the truth. The people deserve answers," McCready wrote.

The elections board is looking into suspicious absentee voting patterns in Bladen and Robeson counties.

Harris has acknowledged hiring Bladen County political operative McCrae Dowless to oversee absentee ballots in the county for him. Dowless is accused of sending people dor to door to collect ballots from voters, which is illegal.