RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – The State House has changed its base map for congressional districts and tossed out the model circulated on Tuesday night in favor of a direct copy of a map the Senate discussed on Wednesday.
State Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro), part of the House Redistricting Committee, sent the map to WGHP on Wednesday evening and said, “This is the congressional map that’s running.”
Harrison had said earlier in the day that she had heard the map circulated Tuesday by Rep. Destin Hall, one of the chief map designers throughout this process, might not be the final version.
The map the Senate created was significantly different from the House’s original map and even had a different numbering sequence for districts. But a side-by-side comparison with the map Harrison submitted showed them to be identical to the casual observer.
Ironically, the Senate had convened in mid-afternoon a meeting of its Redistricting Committee that turned out to be contentious and acrimonious to the extent that the map was withdrawn with a promise to deliver a new map by 9 a.m. Thursday.
The working version of the congressional map that the House is reviewing would restore the 6th Congressional District to a design similar to its current makeup, which is comprised of all of Guilford County and the eastern half of Forsyth County, with Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) as the incumbent.
The 5th District, where Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) is the incumbent, would continue to stretch across the northern counties from Watauga to Caswell, but it also would include the western half of Forsyth County, a small corner of Person County and now all of Orange County, where Rep. David Price (D-Durham) is listed as an incumbent but also is retiring. That means it would extend from Chapel Hill to Tennessee. The map also slices off the bottom corner of Wilkes County.
Just because each chamber of the General Assembly approves maps doesn’t mean they will become the actual districts used when voters go to their polls.
The Supreme Court on Feb. 4 had ordered new maps because those approved in November by lawmakers were created with extreme partisan gerrymandering designed to give Republicans expanded or cemented control in Washington and Raleigh.
These maps will have to be submitted to a 3-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court and then to the North Carolina Superior Court for approval before they can be implemented.
But first each congressional map has to be approved by the chamber’s Redistricting Committee, and eventually the chambers will have to agree on one map that passes votes in both.
The committees were meeting and reviewing maps – along with those for state House and Senate districts – and voting on amendments late into the evening. The process should be completed on Thursday.
Highlights from the House’s working congressional map
- Davidson County would be part of a meandering 8th District that extends from Cabarrus County through the eastern half of Rowan County, across the northern slice of Randolph County and into Alamance County. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) is its incumbent.
- The 10th District would include all of Davie, Iredell, Lincoln, Alexander, Catawba, Burke, Avery, Caldwell and Alexander counties, along with small pieces of Wilkes and McDowell counties and the western portion of Rowan County. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Denver) and Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) would be incumbents in that district, but Budd is running for the U.S. Senate.
- The remainder of Randolph County would be part of another winding district, the 9th District, which would include all of Montgomery, Stanly, Union, Anson, Chatham and Lee Counties along with pieces of Richmond and Harnett counties. That district has no incumbent.
- A 2-way split of Mecklenburg County would place Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte) as the incumbent in the 12th and would have moved Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) into the new 14th District, but Bishop told The News & Observer that, if this map holds, he would run in the 9th District, which includes some of his current territory.
- The new 14th is also where Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) had indicated he would run under the original maps, rather than in the 11th District, where he is the incumbent. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also had considered running in this district.
- There was no incumbent listed in what would be the 4th District, which would stretch from most of Person County into Durham County and the southeastern half of Wake County, or the 13th District, which would be all of Moore, Hoke, Scotland, Robeson and Cumberland counties and parts of Harnett and Richmond counties. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) is retiring in the 1st District.
What happens now?
The Senate released its version of districts for the state Senate earlier this afternoon. Its Redistricting Committee will resume meetings on Thursday morning, and its full membership is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday, ostensibly to vote and approve final maps.
The state House released its initial map of state House districts on Wednesday morning and its Redistricting Committee approved them later. The full House is expected to meet Thursday to vote on its proposed congressional and state House maps.
The unified congressional map must be approved by the entire General Assembly. They are not subject to a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Why this happened
This process and the court review began when a 3-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court in early January had ruled that the legislature was guilty of extreme partisan gerrymandering but that, essentially, the state constitution gave lawmakers the responsibility to draw the maps and partisan gerrymandering wasn’t defined and couldn’t be addressed.
Supreme Court Justices, in a 4-3 decision along partisan lines, granted the appeal filed by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, the Harper group of plaintiffs and Common Cause and gave lawmakers until Friday to produce maps for review by the Wake County Superior Court panel of judges who first handled this case.
That court then would pass along these maps to the Supreme Court by Feb. 23 for final approval. Justices last week said they would appoint a special master to oversee this process and requested nominations for that role from all interested parties, but there has been no name announced.
With the maps in motion again, candidate filing is scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Feb. 24 and continue through March 5, with the primary election now scheduled for May 17. There has been speculation those dates could move – the legislature voted to do so, but Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed that measure – but the courts have not addressed that aspect.