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Charlotte Area News

Republicans Shake Up Legislative Districts In Mecklenburg And Surrounding Counties

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Proposed District 41

http://66.225.205.104/MT20110712.mp3

Proposed Legaslative District 41. Republicans today released a map of how they plan to redraw voting districts for the North Carolina senate. The House maps are supposed to come out today too, but aren't available online yet. GOP lawmakers are in charge of redistricting this time, and have carved out some major changes to districts in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties. Catawba College professor Michael Bitzer has studied redistricting for two decades, and said the Republicans just did what each party does when it gets to draw the lines. "And that is basically work the map to favor them in probably the next few election cycles," Bitzer said. Bitzer said some of the new state senate districts have populations that voted heavily for presidential candidate John McCain in 2008. Bitzer said the GOP will likely keep power in the state senate. One of the new districts is in Mecklenburg County because of population growth. It's district 41, which used to be in Iredell, Lincoln and Gaston counties. Now it's just in Mecklenburg, and it looks like the middle of it was blown up. It starts in the northern part of the county, then tiptoes southeast down the Cabarrus County border and grabs a chunk of south Mecklenburg next to Union County. "So what they did was draw a rather weird looking district that's probably going to lean toward the Republicans," Bitzer said. The change puts Lincoln County in a district that stretches up into Iredell County. Voters in north Iredell County are now grouped with Davie and Rowan counties. The maps leaked early to some political consultants. Senate Democratic leader Martin Nesbitt was not happy. He's on the redistricting committee, and said at a press conference this afternoon his first clues about how the new maps look came from reading analysis from a political blogger. At two o'clock today, he said he still hadn't seen the maps. "It's just one hell of a process when something this important to each and every member down here, Republican and Democrat, is handled in such a way," Nesbitt said. There are 170 districts in the General Assembly, and state legislators adjust their boundaries every 10 years based on census data. Republicans will hold a public hearing on the proposed maps on July 18. Central Piedmont Community College will be one of the sites linked by videoconference. Tweaks are expected to be made to the maps. Republican leaders want a final vote by the end of July.