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With new state Senate map, Democrat Natasha Marcus likely out of a seat

In new North Carolina redistricting maps approved Thursday, Mecklenburg Democratic State Sen. Natasha Marcus has been “double-bunked” into another Senate district that includes Iredell County, making her path to reelection extremely difficult.

Marcus, who lives in Davidson, represents District 41 in north Mecklenburg. Because of population growth in the county, Mecklenburg added a piece of a sixth Senate seat – but not enough for a whole new seat.

Natasha Marcus
NC General Assembly
Natasha Marcus

Mecklenburg was paired with Iredell for the sixth seat as part of a “county cluster” process that legislators approved early during the redistricting process in October. That pairing was recommended by a group of non-partisan map-makers led by a team from Duke University.

But while Mecklenburg was paired with Iredell, it was unclear whether Republican map-makers would include her home address in the new seat. State legislators must live in the district they represent for a year before the election.

The final map “double bunks” some lawmakers – mostly because of population loss in rural areas.

Marcus said there were other lawmakers who were initially put in the same district, but have since been moved. She said she is the only Senate incumbent to be placed in someone else’s district when lawmakers had the ability to not do so.

“I am now in a district that leans heavily Republican,” Marcus said. “That makes it highly unlikely that I could win reelection.”

Marcus would have to challenge Republican incumbent Vickie Sawyer to stay in the Senate. Donald Trump won Iredell County with nearly 60% of the vote in 2020.

She said that Republican lawmakers offered a Mecklenburg state Senate map that would have given her her own district. But she said GOP lawmakers wanted the Democratic delegation to approve that map, which includes a south Mecklenburg seat that could be favorable to the GOP.

“They insisted, in other words, that we endorse their gerrymandering in order to save my place in the Senate,” Marcus said in a statement. “We would not agree to that deal. The need for fair maps in NC is too important. “

Democrats currently hold all five state Senate seats in Mecklenburg County. They hold 11 of 12 House seats.

Marcus said that Democratic lawmakers decided not to support the map to bolster their position for upcoming litigation over the maps.

The new House map for Mecklenburg includes a 13th seat that was added because of population growth. That open seat favors Democrats.

But the new map makes it possible for Republicans to improve their position. If there is an expected Red Wave in 2022, the GOP could win back two or three new House seats in the county.

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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.