Nevada Numbers; Carolina Chaos

Feb. 24, 2016 — As expected, Donald Trump placed first in the Nevada Caucuses scoring just under 46 percent of the attender preference; his strongest performance to date, though the turnout was only in the 75,000 range. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was second with 24 percent, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 21 percent. Dr. Ben Carson and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) trailed with five and four percent, respectively.

Though he didn’t emphasize Nevada at all, Gov. Kasich’s dead last finish behind Carson cannot be good for his pre-Ohio staying power.

Carolina Chaos

Surprise move follows surprise move in the continuing North Carolina redistricting saga that has unleashed political turmoil in the Tar Heel State.

After the three-judge federal panel sitting in Raleigh struck down Congressional Districts 1 (Rep. G.K. Butterfield; D-Wilson) and 12 (Rep. Alma Adams; D-Greensboro) in early February, the legislature, fulfilling the court-ordered directive, re-configured the map and passed it into law by the imposed Feb. 19 deadline. The March 15 primary has been moved to June 7 and, surprisingly, the run-off portion of the election process has been eliminated for the congressional contests. Primary elections for all other offices continue on March 15 and will feature the state’s traditional 40 percent threshold run-off system.

The court’s directive led to at least one after-effect that probably surprised the judges. Because, they opined, in agreeing with testimony from plaintiffs’ representatives that no concrete evidence of polarized voting exists in North Carolina — a change from previous judicial rulings — Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act no longer applies. Therefore, the previously protected minority districts enjoy no such status. Ironically, African-American legislators argued during floor debate that the new map should be opposed because it did not properly account for the polarized voting that does historically exist in the state.

In order to best protect the Republican 10-3 advantage within the North Carolina congressional delegation, the GOP-dominated House and Senate approved a plan that collapsed the old I-85 12th District that, since its original creation in 1992, contained territory anchored in Charlotte, moving north to Lexington, High Point, Winston-Salem, and then east to Greensboro along the major Interstate highway. In its place is a new Mecklenburg County Democratic seat that an African American might win but not necessarily so, and another open Republican-leaning 13th District in Greensboro that includes the surrounding rural counties to the south and west.

Another surprise was the pairing of representatives George Holding (R-NC-13) and David Price (D-NC-4) in a new 4th District that contains parts of Raleigh, a sliver of Durham County, and Orange County (Chapel Hill). Though his home is now in District 4, 57 percent of Rep. Holding’s current 13th District becomes part of neighboring CD-2 (Rep. Renee Ellmers; R-Dunn).

But the new 2nd barely resembles the previous 2nd. In fact, Rep. Ellmers represents only 13 percent of the new 2nd’s territory suggesting that Holding should have an advantage if the two face each other in the new primary. Yesterday, both Holding and Ellmers said they would run in the new 2nd. Former Chatham County Republican chairman Jim Duncan, already running against Ellmers in the previous 2nd and who enjoys financial backing from the Club for Growth, says he will stay in the NC-2 race, even though it will feature Rep. Holding in addition to Ellmers. Like Holding, Duncan’s home is not in the new 2nd District.

Additionally, Rep. Adams, though hailing from Greensboro, surprisingly said she will run in the new 12th that is fully contained within Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County. Because the 12th is now so different, Rep. Adams will face challenges from local Charlotte politicians, and former state Sen. Malcolm Graham (D) and state Rep. Rodney Moore (D) both stated publicly that they are considering running. Former Charlotte Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Barnes (D), who fared poorly in the city’s 2015 mayor’s campaign, also failed to rule out consideration when asked if he would enter the new 12th’s political fray.

The new 13th District also features a paired incumbent situation: Rep. Adams and 6th District Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro). Neither, however, will run here. As stated previously, Rep. Adams says she will run in the 12th, while Rep. Walker confirms he’ll seek re-election in the new 6th District that contains most of his current constituency.

Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte), whose family business is under FBI investigation, also sees his 9th CD radically changed. Instead of beginning in south Charlotte and moving north up I-77 to Statesville, his new district contains all of southern Mecklenburg County and then travels east along the South Carolina border all the way to Fayetteville. The new constituency could subject the two-term congressman to serious primary and general election challenges.

Though Democratic plaintiffs won the legal challenge, they will head back to court to file suit against the new map that their original successful challenge yielded. The new filing deadline is March 25, so if a court is going to halt the changes they have to move quickly or the election will again be disrupted.

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