GOP Maps Shake Up Congressional Districts

Feb 17, 2016

A special state legislative committee has approved a new Congressional district map that would dramatically alter district lines, including those that include Charlotte. The changes are required after a federal court found North Carolina’s 1st and 12th districts unconstitutional.

The Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting voted 24-11 along party lines in favor of the map, which was redrawn by Republicans. It now goes to the full General Assembly, which Gov. Pat McCrory has called into a special session Thursday beginning at 10 a.m.

A federal three-judge panel has given the legislature until Friday to redraw the maps.  Opponents had sued to overturn the 2011 redistricting, and the judges ruled that lawmakers placed too much emphasis on racial quotas. 

The new map redraws the lines on all but one district, the 11th in western North Carolina. It creates 10 Republican-leaning districts and 3 Democratic-leaning districts.   If it takes effect, it likely would require a delay in the congressional races scheduled for the March 15th primary.

Still, Republican legislative leaders are holding out hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will put the redistricting on hold until after the election.

The new maps put the 12th district, which currently snakes along I-85 from Charlotte to north of Greensboro, into a more compact district that’s entirely within Mecklenburg County. Portions of south and southeast Mecklenburg County would be left outside the newly-configured 12th district.

Current 12th District Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat from Greensboro, doesn’t live within the new district. She’s now in a newly configured 13th District, which leans Republican.

The new 12th district would lean Democratic.

“I have conceded that Republicans have to work really hard to win this seat,” said Rep. David Lewis, a Republican who helped re-draw the map. “It is certainly not a serpentine district that snakes all the way up through the state."

Rep. Robert Pittenger’s 9th District now stretches from Charlotte north to Iredell County. In the new configuration, the 9th stretches east from southern Mecklenburg County  and continues along counties that border South Carolina.

The 1st District, one of the two districts the court struck down, also would be redrawn more compactly. U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield currently holds that seat.  

Representative Dan Blue, a Democrat, said the new map doesn’t fix the problem. He said once all the data is available, he thinks the new map will create three districts with heavily minority populations.

“If you think that the people in this state are mad because of the way you redistricted last time, they’re going to be furious because of the way you’re doing this district. This is an abomination, it is a direct assault on democracy.”

One new district could bring conflict: Democratic Rep. David Price, who currently represents the 4th District around Raleigh-Durham, and Republican Rep. George Holding of Raleigh, in the 13th District, both live in what would now be the new 4th district.

Holding’s current district would shift west to cover an area from Statesville to Greensboro, where Adams lives.  

Price issued a statement criticizing the new map:

“The new districts are no more legitimate than the old. A three-ten split in the House delegation does not reflect the current demographics or voter registration of our state, where more than 50 percent of the popular vote for House seats went to Democrats in the last presidential cycle. The fact that Republicans decided to maintain the current partisan split of seats before they began drawing these new maps demonstrates that they did not set out to ensure fair representation,” he said.

North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Hasan Harnett praised the maps, calling them "fair and legal." He noted they reduce the number of spit counties by two-thirds.

"We also support the effort to draw completely colorblind maps that have no race based considerations," Harnett said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates