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MAP: Lawsuit proposes yet another set of new NC redistricting lines; State Sen. Robinson explains vote against budget

Political Notebook

(WGHP) – The new redistricting maps for North Carolina haven’t been approved for even two weeks, and already there is a second lawsuit challenging them on the grounds of racial gerrymandering.

The News & Observer in Raleigh reported today that a suit, filed by the North Carolina League of Conservative Voters and numerous individuals, charges that the maps members of the General Assembly approved last week would make it virtually impossible to have competitive elections in the majority of the 14 Congressional districts despite a near 50-50 split in voter registration statewide.

The suit not only challenges the maps that were approved, but it includes a map drawn by computers that the suit said would meet all requirements for geography and voter distribution. The News & Observer suggests this map could make most of the 14 races competitive and perhaps, based on which voting data you apply, give the Democrats an 8-6 edge.

The maps passed by the General Assembly – and those in place for the 2022 elections until a court would say otherwise – split more populated counties and, observers say, create a 10-4 or 11-3 Republican advantage in Congress. There is an 8-5 GOP edge in the existing 13 districts.

This is the new Congressional map adopted last week by the General Assembly.

One of the most notable effects is to divide Guilford County, now part of the 6th District with the Winston-Salem area, into three districts – the 10th, 11th and 7th – that range from a small corner of Watauga County in the west, along the Virginia border, into Wake County in the east and to the Mecklenburg County line in the south.

The 11th District includes the portions of Guilford County that encompass Greensboro, Oak Ridge and Summerfield, and then all of Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes, Alexander and Caldwell counties and a “bubble” of Southwestern Watauga County around Banner Elk and Blowing Rock.

The southwestern portion of Guilford County that includes High Point now will be part of the 10th District, which includes western Davidson, southern Iredell and all of Rowan and Cabarrus counties. The eastern portion of Guilford County in the 7th District would include eastern Davidson County, all of Randolph, Alamance, Chatham and Lee counties and a southwestern bubble of Wake County.

This is the map filed in a lawsuit to block new Congressional maps adopted in North Carolina. This map was created by computer model. (The News & Observer)

Forsyth County would be contained fully in the 12th District, which loops west and south to include Yadkin, Catawba, Lincoln and half of Iredell counties.

The NAACP and Common Cause, an organization focused on fair voting processes, filed suit against those maps before they were adopted based on their belief that the process of creating the maps violated national voting laws and the state’s statutes.

The map provided in the more recent lawsuit would address all those issues and largely draw district lines along county lines, although Mecklenburg and Wake counties would be split. Guilford County would be combined with Alamance County in a confined district.

“North Carolina is the most litigated redistricting state in America,” Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, said Wednesday during a Zoom meeting about redistricting concerns. “I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years – back to working with the GOP when it was pushing for redistricting reform and now with the Democrats.”

Common Cause, which sued in federal court to force maps to be redrawn for the 2018 and 2020 elections, is advocating for the Senate to adopt the Freedom To Vote Act, the proposed federal law that has passed the House but can’t gain sufficient traction to be addressed in the Senate. That bill would remedy gerrymandering, formalize access to voting and reform campaign finance laws, among other measures.

“We care about process, not outcome,” Phillips said. “We must have passage of the Freedom to Vote Act” to end the problems with gerrymandering.

“[U.S. Sen.] Thom Tillis, when he was the speaker of the [North Carolina] house, was a champion of redistricting reform. … There is no good reason why Senators [Richard] Burr and Tillis would oppose this.”

Why Robinson voted ‘no’

28th District State Sen. Gladys Robinson (R-Greensboro)

State Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Greensboro) was one of eight senators to vote against the biennial budget that passed the Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday (104-10) and is headed to Gov. Roy Cooper, who has said he will sign it.

The budget includes lots of pay raises and lower income taxes, but Robinson wrote in an email Wednesday morning that the budget’s impact on Guilford County Schools was why she voted no. GCS was one of five school districts in highly populated counties that were excluded from a plan to use federal funds to supplement teachers’ pay.

“Guilford County was excluded in the teacher supplement and such was unfair,” she wrote. “Guilford County ranks 12th in teacher supplements far behind the other large counties and even some of the smaller counties.  This exclusion and the exclusion of funding for minority businesses across the state were why I voted against the budget.

“Minority businesses hire many employees and contribute to the economic growth of our State. Republicans refused to allocate funds that were requested, although there were funds in the ARP that were intended for minority businesses.”

Other tidbits

Richard Burr (left) and Thom Tillis (right)
Richard Burr (left) and Thom Tillis (right)
  • Tillis and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-Davie) announced Wednesday that they supported bills in each of their houses to oppose the COVID-19 vaccine mandates on private employers that had been implemented by President Joe Biden. The order has been stayed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and OSHA has said it will abide by that decision. Tillis’s statement was in support of an act supported by all 50 Republicans in the Senate to ban the act as executive overreach. Budd’s comments were aligned with 150 other GOP members of Congress.
  • The state House on Wednesday began consideration of changes in voting laws that would move up the deadline for mail-in ballots, require that election equipment be made in the United States and remove people from voting rolls if they’re disqualified from jury service based on their citizenship status.
  • Tillis issued a statement saying that the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed Monday by President Biden is “a big win for all North Carolinians, funding infrastructure projects and creating good-paying jobs without raising taxes.” He was one of 19 Republicans in the Senate who voted for the bill.
Your Local Election HQ profile: Amy Galey
Amy Galey
  • State Sen.  Amy Scott Galey (R-Alamance), whose 24th District also includes all of Alamance County and the eastern slice of Guilford County, on Wednesday touted $70 million in allocations for her district that were included in the new state budget. She listed 10 projects for Burlington, Alamance County, Snow Camp, Elon, Graham, Mebane and the National Guard Readiness Center.

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