By Jim Ellis
March 9, 2022 — Today’s update is the second part of our look at the new North Carolina political map. In this edition, we examine the state’s 14 new US House districts.
Incumbents who look to be in strong position under the new map and won’t get much of a challenge are the following (the rating figure comes from the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization):
- Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh; D+24)
- Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville; R+29)
- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk; R+24)
- Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro; D+9)
- Rep. David Rouzer (R-Wilmington; R+16)
- Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Union County; R+38)
- Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman; R+43)
- Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte; D+25)
The state will feature four open seats in the 2022 election. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) is retiring after serving what will be nine full terms, leaving his 1st District as an open seat. Rep. Butterfield complained that the original draw makes the seat less favorable for an African-American candidate to win. The new district increases the black population percentage by a point, to just over 41 percent. The total minority population registers almost 50 percent of the new 1st, with a 49.9 percent number.
Four Democrats filed for the seat, and the leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Don Davis (D-Snow Hill) and ex-state senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. Seven Republicans filed including 2020 nominee Sandy Smith, who held Rep. Butterfield to a 54-46 percent re-election victory, and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson. FiveThirtyEight rates this seat as D+5, so we can expect the GOP to target this race.
Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill) is also retiring. He is completing 17 non-consecutive terms in the House, having lost his seat in the 1994 election after originally coming to the House in the 1986 vote. He returned to Congress in the 1996 election. Eight Democrats are vying for the party nomination and the seat in the May primary.
Since the new 4th is rated D+30, claiming the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning the general election. The leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Valerie Foushee (D-Carrboro), Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, and country singer and 2014 congressional nominee Clay Aiken.
The 13th and 14th Districts are new seats. The new 13th, sitting in the south Raleigh suburbs and stretching to Goldsboro in Wayne County, is highly marginal, rated as R+3, but the Dave’s Redistricting App finds the Democrats with a slight 49.4 – 48.1 percent composite edge. Eight Republicans have filed, with the two most viable candidates being ex-US Rep. Renee Ellmers and former North Carolina State football player Bo Hines. Five Democrats will be on the ballot, and the two most striking are state Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary) and former state Sen. Sam Searcy.
The new 14th CD is a court creation. This seat, anchored in the Charlotte suburbs, stretches to the west along the South Carolina border and will elect a Democrat. State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), who dropped out of the US Senate race, is the prohibitive favorite here both for the Democratic primary and in the general election. The new 14th is rated as D+11.
The two incumbents facing some competition are Reps. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) and Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville).
No sitting member of the North Carolina delegation has been more affected from the various map configurations that have plagued the previous decade than Rep. Hudson since his first election in 2012. As a result, he has represented almost all of central North Carolina during his 10-year congressional tenure.
The new 9th District does not include his home area of Concord, but most of the new district is familiar territory. He is displaced yet again, but has a new district that is rated R+11, meaning he should be in strong position once becoming familiar the new district’s constituency. Rep. Hudson has minor Republican primary opposition, and will face state Sen. Ben Clark (D-Fayetteville) in the general election. Sen. Clark is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
The most competitive incumbent situation belongs to Rep. Cawthorn who returns to the western Carolina 11th CD after announcing for a seat based in the Charlotte area under the previous map. He will face seven Republican primary opponents, most of whom entered the race when they thought the district would be open. None, however, dropped out when Rep. Cawthorn returned.
His most high-profile opponent is state Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Hendersonville). The crowded field in a 30 percent runoff structure should help the congressman avoid a secondary election, however, and may allow him to claim re-nomination with only plurality support.
For the general election, Rep. Cawthorn, assuming he wins on May 17, is likely to face Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (D). She looks to be the strongest of the six Democrats who filed, and will reap benefits coming from the Asheville population anchor. Her geographic advantage is magnified in the Democratic primary.
The new 11th is rated R+14, down two points down from the current 11th, but still a strong district for the eventual GOP nominee. Rep. Cawthorn has to be considered the favorite for re-election, but significant campaigns, both in the primary and general, will be run against him.