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NC Republicans unveil new congressional maps that would erase recent Democratic gains

One proposed Congressional map would give Republicans the advantage in 11 of 14 seats.
N.C. General Assembly
One proposed Congressional map would give Republicans the advantage in 11 of 14 seats.

North Carolina Republican lawmakers on Wednesday filed two bills for the state’s new congressional map, with one giving the GOP a clear advantage in 11 of the state’s 14 districts by efficiently packing Democrats into three seats.

The other map would be only slightly better for Democrats, giving them the advantage in three seats with one a toss-up. Republicans would be favored in the other ten.

The state’s current congressional map, which was used for the 2022 election, was drawn by court-appointed special masters. It has seven Republicans and seven Democrats.

To help Democrats, that map split the city of Charlotte in half. That placed a large number of Democrats in the 12th Congressional District, represented by Alma Adams. Democrats were also concentrated in the 14th District, represented by Jeff Jackson.

The new maps mostly keep the city in its own district, which would likely be represented by Adams. That packs Democratic voters into one place. In one proposed map, Joe Biden won precincts in the new district with 74% of the vote.

For Jackson, the new maps represent a huge shift that could end his career in Congress.

President Biden won Jackson’s current district in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties by nearly 17 percentage points. In one new map, which stretches more to the west, Biden lost the district by roughly 15 percentage points.

That will likely push Jackson to run for North Carolina attorney general.

Jackson said in a statement that “gerrymandering is open political corruption. It shows weakness — never strength.”

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, called the new maps "gerrymandering on steroids."

One map also places much of southeast Mecklenburg into a district made up of more conservative counties to the east, like Union, Anson, Richmond and Scotland.

One of the towns included in the Republican-friendly district is Mint Hill, home to state House member Tricia Cotham, who switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party earlier this year.

Political observers have said Cotham could run for Congress.

One of the two proposed maps would have the Democrats heavily favored in three districts — in Charlotte, Raleigh and the rural northeast. Republicans would be expected to win the other 11.

The other map gives Democrats safe seats in Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham. A seat in the rural northeast held by Democrat Don Davis would be a toss-up.

Former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder, who has worked to fight gerrymandering that hurts Democrats, said in a statement: “The new maps are based on political fear and arrogance. They are neither reflective of, nor will they be responsive to, the voters of North Carolina.”

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled four years ago that it won’t strike down maps based on partisan gerrymandering, saying it would leave that to state courts. Republicans currently have a 5-2 majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court.

That means the only brake on North Carolina map-makers is if federal courts find they engaged in racial gerrymandering.

Republicans also unveiled new maps for the state House and Senate. In Mecklenburg, Democrats currently have all five of the state Senate seats contained inside the county. And they hold 11 of the 13 House seats.

The new maps try to give the GOP a better chance of winning more seats. One proposed state Senate seat would include Matthews, Mint Hill and the most Republican parts of south Charlotte.

It also would place Democratic incumbent Natasha Marcus of Davidson in a district with Iredell Republican Vickie Sawyer.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.