Today’s spotlight takes us to North Carolina where we review the state’s 13 congressional districts after the dust has settled from the May 8 primary. The run-off date for several of the races is July 17.
NORTH CAROLINA (current delegation: 7D-6R) – The Tar Heel State is one of the most important of the 2011 redistricting process. Along with Illinois, and possibly California, North Carolina will likely see greater change in their congressional delegation than any other state. While Illinois is likely to see a three- to four-seat Democratic gain, it’s probable that North Carolina will see the same level of change but in the Republicans’ favor.
We’ll focus on key districts that are either “toss ups” or “likely” to go to go one way or the other:
• District 2: Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) – With 71 percent new territory, freshman Rep. Ellmers’ biggest test was winning the Republican nomination, which she did with 56 percent of the vote against three GOP opponents. The 2nd District was changed greatly to give Ms. Ellmers a much better chance of sustaining her congressional career. The previous 2nd, the one in which she upset Rep. Bob Etheridge (D) in 2010, went for President Obama in 2008 in a 52 percent count. The new 2nd supported John McCain with 56 percent, a swing of eight full percentage points. This being said, Rep. Ellmers is a heavy favorite now to defeat Democratic businessman Steve Wilkins. LIKELY REPUBLICAN
• District 7: Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) – This is a seat greatly changed in redistricting, and Rep. McIntyre now has a difficult road to re-election. The district has 36% new territory, most of it unfriendly for the incumbent. The McCain score went from 52 percent in the current NC-7 to 58 percent within the new boundaries. McIntyre will face state Sen. David Rowser in the general election, a former staff member to the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). Rowser defeated 2010 congressional nominee Ilario Pantano, who held McIntyre to a 54-46 percent re-election victory. This has the makings of a top tier general election campaign. TOSS-UP
• District 8: Rep. Larry Kissell (D) – Rep. Kissell is another of the Democratic incumbents who fared poorly under the Republican redistricting plan. In this instance, the district swings a full ten points toward the Republicans on the Obama scale. In 2008, the President carried the current 8th District with 53 percent of the vote. Under the new boundaries, John McCain would have scored 57 percent. Kissell then tallied a 53 percent re-election win two years ago in the mid-term election. Additionally, only 54 percent of Kissell’s current constituency carries over to the new 8th. The congressman will also have to wait until July 17 to learn the identity of his general election opponent. Republican business consultant and former congressional staff member Richard Hudson and ex-Iredell County Commissioner and dentist Scott Keadle face each other in the GOP run-off. Hudson garnered 32 percent of the Republican primary vote against four opponents, but still eight points away from winning the nomination outright. Keadle posted 22 percent. This should be a highly competitive run-off campaign and one of the best Republican general election conversion opportunities in the country. TOSS-UP
• District 9: Rep. Sue Myrick (R) – The July 17 Republican run-off will decide the next congressman in this Charlotte suburban seat. The 9th is solidly Republican, and Democratic nominee Jennifer Roberts, a Mecklenburg county commissioner, is not expected to be competitive in the fall for this open seat. The original 11 Republican candidates have now winnowed down to two. The run-off features former state Sen. Robert Pittenger, a favorite of the national conservative movement, and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph. In the primary, Pittenger placed first with 32 percent of the vote and Pendergraph was second with 25 percent. LIKELY REPUBLICAN
• District 11: Rep. Heath Shuler (R) – When redistricting made the new 11th the most Republican district in the state, Rep. Shuler decided to call it quits and announced his retirement. Now that the 11th is an open seat, his chief of staff, Hayden Rogers, is attempting to keep it in the Democratic column, but he has a very difficult task to do so. Republicans are in a run-off featuring two non-elected officials, one of whom is running for his first time. Businessman Mark Meadows obtained 38 percent of the vote, just two points away from winning the nomination outright. He will face businessman and former congressional candidate Vance Patterson. Meadows looks to be the favorite for the July 17 vote and in the general election against Rogers. LIKELY REPUBLICAN