University of Tennessee professor Dr. Mark Harmon announced that he will run as a Democrat for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 congressional race.
Harmon has a history in politics, having served a term as the Knox County Commissioner from 2006 to 2010. He has helped with mayoral campaigns and has also twice been elected to the Knox County Democratic Party’s executive committee. He has worked for UTK and the College of Communication and Information since 1999. This will be the second time he will run for Congress, having lost in the general election in Texas’ 13th Congressional District in 1998.
Harmon has decided to run in Tennessee’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes the Knox, Blount, Claiborne, Loudon and Grainger counties as well as part of Campbell County and Jefferson County. He will make a formal announcement about his campaign in fall 2021.
Republican Rep. Tim Burchett is the current elected U.S. House representative for the district. Harmon cited Burchett as his main reason for running.
“Well, because all of us need a congressman who will stand up to the bullies and mobs and the powerful, and not give them what they want,” Harmon said. “Our current congressman is failing in that regard, so I decided to challenge it.”
Harmon plans on using Burchett’s actions as congressman against him, specifically regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection. The following quote is Harmon’s views on the congressman and his actions.
“[Burchett] supported an insurrection indirectly,” Harmon said. “He did so by, hours after riotous insurrectionists violated the sacred space of our U.S. Capitol, he gave them the truth denying vote they wanted. He even joined in a crazy lawsuit in which Texas was trying to tell other states how to conduct their elections; that was unanimously rejected by the Supreme Court. And he twice has voted against committees or commissions that would investigate that horrible day in U.S. history.”
“He has forfeited all rights to be considered a serious candidate by supporting insurrectionist language and outcomes,” Harmon said.
Harmon also mentioned Burchett’s voting record as something that he will use against the current representative. Harmon said that Burchett has voted against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
Harmon plans on using those points against Burchett during the congressional race. He also plans on offering reasons to vote for him instead, stating three main issues he intends to focus on.
“I would like to value work by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Harmon said. “I would like to talk about my experiences as a university professor and how important it is that students get more grants and fewer loans. So I want to talk about loan forgiveness, I want to talk about shifting federal resources toward more grants for students and post-secondary education, so people can pursue the American Dream.”
“The third and final thing I want to do is I want to get changes to our healthcare, so every health coverage option … includes a public option, so … we can take the things that people like about Medicare and craft them into a public option, so our healthcare coverage plans become better. Those are my big three.”
He also mentioned focusing on green jobs and energy with a focus on climate science, as well as election bills to make voting easier for people.
Harmon will use his previous political campaigns and experience in this upcoming election. He said that he has learned how to run a campaign and reach voters. He will run with the Knox County Democratic Party (KCDP) as their official Democratic candidate for the U.S. House position.
Chair of the KCDP Matt Shears talked about working with Harmon and his campaign as a coordinated campaign, which is where they focus their efforts on a candidate running for a major seat in Congress in order to contact voters about that race and other local races on the ballot.
“Mark has already met with me and our staff about the kind of campaign that he will run, and we’ve emphasized -- and he’s agreed to this -- that it will be a coordinated campaign,” Shears said. “Obviously, right now it’s laying the groundwork, the infrastructure, fundraising.”
“But once we do start with voter outreach, we will have that meeting with all of the county chairs and the down ballot candidates, and we’ll form a plan and a strategy to make sure that we are spreading ourselves out so that we can contact as many voters as possible.”
Usually, the KCDP recruits candidates to run for different positions. Shears confirmed that Harmon came to them first about running for Congress. Shears talked about what makes Harmon a unique candidate.
“Mark [Harmon] is the only former elected official to run as a Democrat for Congress in this seat in maybe 30 years,” Shears said. “So he brings a level of credibility as a former elected official in the county that we haven’t necessarily had in the past.”
He said that his inclusion will “add energy to all of our races up and down the ballot” because of Harmon’s credibility as an elected official and his academic career.
The KCDP will help Harmon run his campaign with fundraising, contacting voters and providing voter data for the 2nd Congressional District. Shears hopes that Harmon will win and that they will “run a campaign like this district has never seen before.”
Harmon expressed hopes to win in the 2022 2nd Congressional District Race against the incumbent Burchett.
“For so long, we have looked at these things as, in traditional political terms, political right versus political left, and that’s never been a great yardstick,” Harmon said. “In this particular case, it’s a matter of right and wrong, and Tim Burchett is wrong on the morality of supporting insurrectionists … he is wrong on major issues in which public opinion is dramatically against him.”
“I will run a non-traditional campaign where I will use every resource, every campaign tactic learned that is fair and concentrates on public policy, and just have a great time. I realize it’s a long shot, but I like to think that at least part of our district is cheering for David instead of Goliath,” Harmon said.
Dr. Mark Harmon will run for Congress in 2022. He will make a formal announcement this fall. He has a campaign website set up right now, which he will update soon.
His opponent, Rep. Tim Burchett, will run again for the Republican Party. His campaign focuses on different issues, including lowering taxes, protecting the Second Amendment and fighting illegal immigration. More information can be found on his campaign website.