(Photo: Family Research Council/Carrie Russell)
Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has endorsed Mark Harris, pastor of the 3,000-member First Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate scheduled for May.
"He's a true conservative who will join us in fighting against the status quo in Washington," Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, said in a statement released by Harris' campaign. "Americans are looking for leaders who they can trust to place their oath of office above partisan politics by fighting for the Constitution and standing up for what they believe in."
While establishment Republicans prefer North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis to take on Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan from the state, Harris appears to be counting on support from social conservatives.
"Mark is the right choice for conservatives and Republicans in North Carolina," said Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008 and finished second in total delegates to Arizona Sen. John McCain.
"As previous campaigns have shown in North Carolina, you can't select a candidate that divides people, you must select the candidate that unites people," said Huckabee, potential GOP presidential contender for 2016, alluding perhaps to Tillis, who has not been able to unite the state's GOP leaders behind his campaign.
Harris, former president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, "is the only candidate who has the lifelong experience as a public servant that has helped guide people from all walks of life through every problem you can imagine," added Huckabee, who is former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
Huckabee is urging his national network of supporters to donate to the Harris' campaign and volunteer "to help make sure we get a true fiscal and social conservative in the U.S. Senate from North Carolina," according to the News Observer.
Harris became a founding member of "Vote for Marriage NC" in 2011. The campaign resulted in an amendment to the state's constitution to ban same-sex unions through a 2012 vote. He is among six candidates for U.S. Senate in the GOP primary scheduled May 6.
Tillis has the support of Karl Rove, Republican political consultant and policy advisor; U.S. House Speaker John Boehner; U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and a few others.
Greg Brannon, a Tea Party favorite, has the backing of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Bill Flynn of Kernersville has the support of conservative health care expert C.L. Gray.
Ted Alexander of Shelby and Heather Grant of Wilkesboro are also in the race, according to Charlotte Observer.
Huckabee is expected to campaign in the state for Harris ahead of the primary.