The special three-judge state panel hearing the redistricting challenge to the legislative and congressional maps unanimously, and with a mention that partisanship was left out of their decision, ruled in favor of the state of North Carolina. This means that the Republican-drawn maps will continue to stand.
The judicial panel was comprised of two Democrats and one Republican. The upheld maps sent nine Republicans and four Democrats to Washington from the congressional delegation; a state Senate consisting of 33 Republicans and 17 Democrats; and a state House comprised of 77 Republicans and just 43 Democrats. Prior to the 2010 elections and the subsequent redistricting, Democrats held an 8-5 advantage in the congressional delegation, a 30-20 margin in the state Senate, and commanded a 68-52 House majority.
The decision will undoubtedly be appealed to the state Supreme Court, but a panel with a Republican majority is unlikely to overturn a Democratic special court that found in the state’s favor.
There are two key practical effects from the ruling. First, as it relates to the US Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder opinion, it is now highly unlikely that the maps will be redrawn prior to the next census. Thus, the Shelby County decision will not likely come into play here until 2021. Since North Carolina has live redistricting litigation ongoing, as does Florida, Arizona, and Kentucky, an overturn of the state’s map could have had a major effect upon any new court-mandated drawing.
Second, one of North Carolina’s remaining four Democratic seats, the 7th District of Rep. Mike McIntyre, saw the closest finish of any 2012 US House race. McIntyre was re-elected over former state Sen. David Rouzer with a mere 654-vote margin from more than 336,000 ballots cast. With Rouzer already running again and facing a mid-term turnout model without President Obama leading the Democratic ticket, it makes McIntyre the most endangered Democrat in Congress. A redraw would have greatly helped him. Now without such a boost, does McIntyre even run again? The coming weeks in the southeastern corner of this state will be politically interesting.
More redistricting action occurred on Monday in Arizona. There the court hearing the redistricting case requested briefs from both sides asking the parties to educate the judges as to how the Shelby County decision will affect this current case.
An overturn in North Carolina would have helped the Democrats. An overturn in Arizona, should that be forthcoming, will likely help the Republicans.
New York City: If the return of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY9) to campaign politics (he’s running for mayor) from his sexual-related scandal that forced him to resign wasn’t enough, now former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) – forced to resign because of a prostitution scandal – suddenly became a candidate for New York City Comptroller. Both men face heavily contested Democratic primaries with unknown prospects.
IL-17: Former Congressman Bobby Schilling (R), who defeated then-Rep. Phil Hare (D) in 2010, only to lose to current Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) in a post-redistricting 17th CD two years later, says he will seek a 2014 re-match. Though the turnout model will undoubtedly be more favorable to Schilling – after all, favorite son Barack Obama will not be leading the Democratic ticket – the increased Democratic nature of the district will make defeating Bustos all the more difficult.
ME-2: Former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin (R), who placed a strong second in the 2012 US Senate Republican primary, is poised to enter the open seat 2nd District congressional race. Poliquin will be a formidable candidate in both the primary and general election. Rep. Mike Michaud (D) is vacating the district to run for governor.