North Carolina Map Passes

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.

Rep. Hudson’s 8th District has been changed in every new map iteration throughout the past decade. In his five House terms, he has represented virtually every part of central North Carolina in one district or another. This new map again drastically changes the core of his district. Currently, the 8th CD begins in his home county of Cabarrus and moves easterly through counties that take him all the way to Fayetteville.

The new map, while giving him a strong Republican district labeled #10, takes him north of the Charlotte metro area all the way into the city of High Point and part of Greensboro. While this district will be a good general election seat for Hudson, yet another district with a preponderance of new territory could lead him into a serious primary challenge.

With two delegation members not seeking re-election – Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill) retiring and Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) running for Senate – and the addition of a new seat, North Carolina will host at least three open races. Should Rep. Manning choose not to run in the new 7th District that stretches from the Greensboro suburbs to the Raleigh suburbs and through strong Republican counties, this seat will be open, too, for a grand total of four.

The new district, labeled #4, is set southeast of Raleigh and is comprised of the strong Republican county of Johnston, but also the bigger Democratic county of Cumberland, which houses Fayetteville and the Ft. Bragg Army base. Two other Republican counties and part of a third should tip the political balance toward the eventual GOP nominee, however.

Rep. Budd’s 13th District moves from the Piedmont Triad region to the Charlotte area. The seat will encompass part of western Charlotte and move into rural counties on the way to Asheville. This will be an open Republican seat.

Below is an outline of how the districts will transform under the new map;

• District 1: Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) will see his district number change to 2, but keeps many of the same counties that hug the Virginia border he currently represents before moving toward the east-central part of the state. This seat could be somewhat more Republican, which will be analyzed when the political data becomes available. At first glance it appears the district will remain reliably Democratic.

• District 2: Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh) retains most of her downtown Raleigh district. It remains Democratic, but will be labeled #5.

• District 3: Rep. Greg Murphy’s (R-Greenville) district that covers the Outer Banks and most of the North Carolina coast will remain largely intact and safely Republican, but will be labeled District 1.

• District 4: Retiring Rep. David Price represents the Durham-Chapel Hill area. Though he will not be running, the district footprint remains consistent, but will be labeled #6. There may be an outside chance that Rep. Manning runs here, even though she currently represents none of the area. Though it would be safe for her in the general election, she would undoubtedly face a difficult Democratic primary.

• District 5: Rep. Foxx’s seat radically changes as described above, and will be labeled #11. The addition of Greensboro makes this seat much more competitive.

• District 6: Rep. Manning’s seat, as also described above, is broken into at least four parts. She is the big loser in this redistricting plan, and will likely not have a winnable district in which to run. She would have the choice of running in new Republican District 7, against Rep. Foxx in 11, or even potentially against Rep. Hudson, but his new 10th will be solidly Republican. As mentioned above, a long shot in new District 6 may also be a possibility.

• District 7: Rep. David Rouzer’s (R-Wilmington) CD remains centered in the Wilmington area, but he loses his strong Republican county of Johnston, where he formerly resided and also represented in the state legislature. Rep. Rouzer should still have a reliable Republican seat labeled District 3.

• District 8: As described above, Rep. Hudson again gets a radically different district, but a much safer general election seat. His potential problem in new District 10 could be in the Republican primary.

• District 9: Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) is technically paired with Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte) in District 9, which is the urban Charlotte seat and will be strongly Democratic. Therefore, Rep. Bishop will move into new District 8, which contains the majority of his current 9th CD, only is improved with the addition of several rural Republican counties from Rep. Hudson’s current 8th District.

• District 10: Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman) will maintain his political base in the Hickory-Statesville area, but his new 12th District will annex all of Forsyth County and the city of Winston-Salem. This makes his district more Democratic, but the western W-S suburbs and the rural counties including Rep. McHenry’s home Catawba County will keep the seat Republican.

• District 11: Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-Hendersonville) district in the state’s western tail largely remains in tact since geography dictates the region tucked in among Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina has to remain together. The new district carries #14, and will remain a Republican seat.

• District 12: Despite technically being paired with Rep. Bishop, Ms. Adams’ 12th District remains largely in tact as an urban Democratic seat but will be labeled #9.

• District 13: With Rep. Budd running for the Senate, the 13th moves to the southwestern part of the state and becomes a Charlotte/western state Republican open seat.

This new map looks to yield 10 Republican seats and four Democratic, but we will know much more when the political data becomes accessible. This map will also be challenged in court, so a lengthy legal battle is again in store for North Carolina politicos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *