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GOP chairman says he won’t pursue open seat in House of Delegates

State GOP chairman Mark Harris, who is filling the term vacated by Melody Potter, wants to end the talk that he may be appointed to a House of Delegate seat.

Mark Harris

Speculation circulated in recent days that Harris might be considered for a seat that will be vacated with the resignation of Jeffrey Pack, R-Raleigh, who is taking a job with DHHR.

In a text this afternoon, Harris wrote “I will not submit my name for an open seat resulting from Jeff Pack’s impending resignation. I love serving as chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party and we are fully focused on victory in 2022 and 2024.”

Reached by telephone and asked if he had any more to say, Harris said the statement summed up his position.

Harris was picked in March to fill the unexpired term of GOP chairwoman Melody Potter. He had served as chairman of the Raleigh County GOP and continued in that role until recently.

Harris earlier served as chief of staff at the Beckley VA Hospital, starting in 2017, and was responsible for clinical operations there and and at community clinics in Greenbrier and Mercer counties.

Among those hired at the hospital at the time was Dr. Jonathan Yates, who is now serving a prison sentence for the sexual abuse of multiple veterans who had sought medical treatment at the hospital. An investigation into the sexual assaults opened in September 2019. In November 2019, Harris was dismissed.

His name has circulated in recent days as a possible replacement for Pack in the seat serving Raleigh County communities.

Brandon Steele

Another Raleigh County delegate, Republican Brandon Steele, went on radio today and was leery about Harris in multiple roles.

“We have several very well-qualified candidates interested in this position that I think would be outstanding members,” said Steele, chairman of the Government Organization Committee, speaking earlier today on “The Tom Roten Morning Show.”

“I think the selection of Mark would cause irreparable harm between the Legislature and the governor. If Mark truly did care about the party he would pull his name out of this.”

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