Under the Dome

Harris is attempting to become a rare clergy/senator

If Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris is elected to the U.S. Senate next year, he will be a rare example of a member of the clergy be elected to the nation's upper chamber, according to Smart Politics blog.

Since the direct election of senators began 100 years ago, only three members of the clergy have been elected. They were Ohio Republican John Bricker (US Army Chaplain, elected 1946 and 1952), Missouri Republican John Danforth (Episcopal priest, 1976, 1982, 1988) and Arkansas Republican Tim Hutchinson (Southern Baptist pastor, 1996). Arkansas Democrat Kaneaster Hodges (Methodist, 1977) was appointed to the Senate.

Unlike Bricker, Danforth, and Hutchinson, Harris is launching a Senate bid without having previously held a political office, according to Smart Politics.

From 1789 until the turn of the 19th century when senators were elected by state legislatures, 16 clergymen were appointed or elected to the Senate representing a variety of denominations such as Baptist, Congregational, Roman Catholic, First church of Christ, Unitarian, Universalist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and African Methodist Episcopal.

Smart Politics is a non-partisan political news site authored by Eric Ostermeir, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Harris on Wednesday announced he was entering the GOP primary for the right to face Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. He pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

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