By Jim Ellis
Nov. 8, 2021 –The North Carolina legislature passed a congressional redistricting map late last week featuring a new seat that pushes the state to a 14-member delegation, but court challenges are again inevitable.
Under North Carolina law, the governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over redistricting. Therefore, when the map cleared both legislative chambers, the plan became law.
The Tar Heel State legislature and the courts have battled over redistricting for most of the previous decade, with the judiciary changing the legislature’s maps no fewer than three times during that 10-year period.
The last court iteration, in which the Democratic controlled state Supreme Court added two Democratic seats at the GOP’s expense, created safe districts for their party in Raleigh and Greensboro. The effect transformed the delegation’s partisan division to eight Republicans and five Democrats.
Under the legislature’s new 2021 version, the members returned to the previous GOP model for the Greensboro area, while largely keeping the Democratic draw for central Raleigh. Though political data is not yet available for the 14 new districts, estimates suggest that the new plan will yield 10 Republican seats and four Democratic districts, at least for the 2022 election cycle.
With a March 8, 2022 primary and candidate filing opening in about a month on Dec. 6, it will be difficult to move quickly through the court process to stop the map before officially beginning the election cycle.
The new map displaces several members and is another example of the map drawers changing the district numbers, thus making it more difficult to make comparisons. The members most negatively affected are Reps. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), and Richard Hudson (R-Concord).
The Manning district currently covers all of Guilford County, including the cities of Greensboro and High Point, and moves west into Forsyth County to annex the city of Winston-Salem. The court’s 2020 draw was split four ways, giving Rep. Manning the choice of approximately four immediate districts in which she could run, all of which are Republican. Therefore, it appears at first glance without the aid of political data that she would have to choose among four bad options in order to attempt to continue her congressional career.
Rep. Foxx, who currently represents a western North Carolina 5th District that stretches from Virginia to South Carolina would now see her new 11th CD begin in the western mountains and stretch easterly along the Virginia border and south into the city of Greensboro. This may be a relatively Republican district, but the addition of Democratic Greensboro clearly changes the district’s complexion and takes Foxx into a region that she has not represented over her nine terms in Congress.