CoastLine Candidate Interviews 2020: NC's 7th Congressional District - Rouzer Vs. Ward
North Carolina’s Congressional District map has faced criticism for years. In 2018, a federal court declared it unconstitutional and gerrymandered to favor Republican candidates.
The court ordered the maps be redrawn, there was a stay of that order, and then several more rounds in the courts. The most recent ruling in December of last year ordered that maps drawn by Republicans in November would be used in the 2020 election only. Once this year’s Census is complete, another round of redistricting starts for 2021.
North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District has shifted this way: the old map covered all of New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Columbus, Sampson, Duplin, and Wayne Counties with portions of Johnston and Bladen Counties.
But the new maps? The 7th District now includes ALL of Bladen and Johnston Counties – in addition to New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Columbus, Sampson, and an eastern slice of Harnett County. Wayne now belongs to District 1 and Duplin County is part of the 3rd Congressional District.
David Rouzer has represented the 7th District since 2014 when he faced Democratic Challenger Jonathan Barfield – who was and is a New Hanover County Commissioner. That race was a rout; Rouzer beat his Democratic opponent by 22 points.
Two years later, the same year Donald Trump won the Presidency, David Rouzer beat his Democratic challenger again -- by almost the same margin – nearly 22 points. In 2018, Rouzer won a third term – but the margin was a little tighter. Democrat Dr. Kyle Horton, now a candidate for New Hanover County Commissioner, lost to Rouzer by about 13 points.
This year, as Congressman Rouzer seeks a fourth term, he faces Challenger Chris Ward who beat out two other Democratic candidates in the primary.
Chris Ward grew up on a farm that produced tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat, and some produce in Tabor City, which is in Columbus County.
He is currently a Project Manager and Engineer with a company, Design Group, that is, in part, a pharmaceutical consulting company. He describes his work as bringing new drug products to market. He also owns and operates a real estate business -- buying, selling, flipping, mortgaging, and renting houses.
David Rouzer has held the seat since 2014; this year, he’s seeking his fourth term. His experience in Washington, D.C. dates back to the 1990s when he was a senior staffer for former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms and later, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole. He also served two terms as a North Carolina Senator representing Wayne and Johnston Counties. As a member of the U.S. House, Rouzer is a member of two Committees: Transportation and Infrastructure -- and Agriculture.