NC Republicans file new redistricting plans for Congress, legislature
Republican lawmakers filed new redistricting maps Wednesday afternoon that could give the GOP an advantage in next year's elections.
Both the state House and Senate's redistricting committees are meeting Thursday to review the initial proposals that top Republicans have been drawing behind closed doors in recent weeks.
Republicans have long been expected to draw more favorable maps for their party than the ones used last year under a court order, and data on the new districts show that Democrats won a majority in 2022 in only three of the 14 districts. Currently, the state has seven Republicans and seven Democrats serving in the House under maps drawn by court-appointed "special masters" last year.
The proposals include one set of state House and Senate districts and two possible redistricting plans for Congress. The two congressional maps would likely make it harder for incumbent Democratic U.S. Reps. Wiley Nickel, Kathy Manning and Jeff Jackson to keep their seats. The mostly urban districts they represent now in the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte would extend into neighboring conservative, rural counties.
One plan includes a district that runs from northern Wake County to coastal Carteret County, as well as a district that runs from Charlotte to near Asheville.
Analysts like Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said the proposals could give Republicans 10 or 11 of the 14 seats in North Carolina's congressional delegation.
Based on my initial look at the two NC GOP congressional plans, one is a 11R-3D plan (+4R, -4D) that merges Davis & Foushee and eliminates Manning, Jackson and Nickel.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) October 18, 2023
The other is a 10R-3D-1C that makes Davis's #NC01 competitive and eliminates Manning, Jackson and Nickel.
One of the plans could force two of the three Black members of Congress from North Carolina to run in the same district: U.S. Rep. Valerie Foushee of Orange County and U.S. Rep. Don Davis of Greene County. Under that map, Davis' Snow Hill home would likely share a conservative district with Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy of Greenville, while much of his current district would be in the same district as Foushee.
The maps are likely to fuel speculation that House Speaker Tim Moore could run for Congress. Both proposed Congressional maps have a new district that includes his Cleveland County home and doesn't have a Republican incumbent.
The redistricting committees don't plan to vote on the maps on Thursday, but the full House and Senate are expected to return to Raleigh next week to finalize the plans. That will likely trigger lawsuits that question whether the plans are unconstitutional gerrymanders. Republicans hope their party's new majority on the state Supreme Court will allow the maps to stand.
Democrats like Rep. Lindsey Prather, D-Buncombe, are unhappy with the process used so far.
I want to take a second & acknowledge the sheer insanity that is #ncpol We need nonpartisan, independent redistricting. We shouldn't be waiting w/bated breath for maps that were drawn in secret. This shouldn't be exciting. It should be a boring thing that happens every 10 years.— Lindsey Prather (@PratherForNC) October 18, 2023
The legislature's top Democrats, Sen. Dan Blue and Rep. Robert Reives, also issued a statement critical of the closed-door district drawing.
"We are reviewing these maps in real time and will no doubt find them to be partisan gerrymanders that violate the rights of minority voters in North Carolina," they said in a news release.
Gov. Roy Cooper called the plan "illegal maps that show gerrymandering on steroids."
The new maps would give Republicans a chance to add a few seats in the state legislature as well. In Wake County, the proposal puts incumbent Democratic Sens. Jay Chaudhuri and Lisa Grafstein in the same district, while creating a competitive open seat in southern Wake.
In the Charlotte region, Sen. Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, would likely lose her seat because she's double-bunked with Sen. Vickie Sawyer, R-Iredell, in a Republican-leaning district.
The House map double-bunks several incumbents, but because some aren't running for re-election, they won't have to run against each other. Rep. Wesley Harris, D-Mecklenburg, is in the same district as Rep. Laura Budd, D-Mecklenburg, but Harris has announced a run for state treasurer.
Cabarrus County Reps. Diamond Staton-Williams and Kristin Baker share a district under the map, but Baker announced she won't seek another term.
Several House Democrats could face an uphill battle for re-election under the map, including Reps. Terence Everitt of Wake Forest, Lindsey Prather of Buncombe County and Staton-Williams.