By Jim EllisDec. 23, 2019 — Four-term North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ Asheville), the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, surprisingly announced that he would not file for re-election this past Friday, and immediately rumors began circulating that he will soon accept a position in the Trump Administration.
Prospective candidates had less than two full days to decide if they wanted to enter the now open congressional race since he sent his announcement tweet on Wednesday night and candidate filing closed at noon Friday, Dec. 20. Six Democrats had already announced their candidacies, so the onus is on Republican potential contenders to make a quick decision and complete the filing process.
Stronger potential Democratic candidates only had that same small time window to make a decision, as well. Of those six already running no one has yet reported even raising $40,000.
The new redistricting plan changed North Carolina’s 11th District to the degree where just under a quarter of the constituency is new but no more Democratic even though the entire city of Asheville was placed back into the CD.
The 11th District sits in the far western tail of North Carolina, nestled among the bordering states of Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. The new 11th District encompasses 16 whole counties along with a part of Rutherford County. The changes included adding all of Buncombe (Asheville) and Avery Counties, while annexing about half of Rutherford County. In exchange, Burke and Caldwell Counties are transferred to Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-Banner Elk) new 5th District.
Despite the filing deadline chaos, the GOP should easily retain control of the district. The population is 89 percent white and gave President Trump 57.2 percent of its vote in the 2016 election. This figure represented a slight gain from the 55.2 percent Mitt Romney recorded against President Obama in the 2012 election.
Over his tenure, Rep. Meadows averaged 60.9 percent of the vote through his four congressional campaigns. The 11th CD encompasses six state Senate districts, all Republican-held, and 12 state House seats. In the latter chamber, Republicans hold nine of the seats with three in the Democratic column, all three hailing from Buncombe County. Some of these individuals may be prospective congressional candidates.
The Meadows announcement now means 39 US House seats are open for the next campaign, including what will soon be five vacancies. California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) said he will resign the seat soon after the holidays. Earlier, the congressman pled guilty to one campaign finance charge in exchange for the other 59 counts being dismissed.
Of the 39 open seats, Republicans hold 28 meaning just 11 are coming from the Democratic side. Since the overwhelming majority of these districts are safe seats, we can expect the Democrats to enjoy an early three seat net gain projection as the campaigns begin to unfold. This includes the two North Carolina seats whose GOP incumbents in NC-2 (Rep. George Holding) and NC-6 (Rep. Mark Walker) had their districts effectively eliminated in the latest court-ordered redistricting configuration.