Who will be on your ballot for Congress in North Carolina? There are questions before that.

Political Notebook

We are about 10 days away from the opening of the formal filing period for the 2022 elections—that runs from noon on Dec. 6 to noon on Dec. 17 – and there are many continuing questions about who might be running where in the race for North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats.

The main question: Will the courts take any action on the congressional map that lawmakers in the General Assembly approved earlier this month? And what could they do before the primaries would be staged in March?

At least two lawsuits have been filed to suggest these new maps are racially gerrymandered to give Republicans dominance in the House of Representatives. Based on the new district lines and voting records, political observers say there are 10 or 11 districts that the GOP should control among the 14, with three heavily leaning to Democrats. The current mix is 8-5, GOP, and a new district has been added following the 2020 census.

Courts twice ordered redraws of the maps the GOP first put in place in 2011, most dramatically for the 2020 election. What happens next for 2022 clearly is muddled.

But if you set aside those questions and accept that the maps will be used, there remains even more uncertainty about who would represent the districts in the Piedmont Triad.

Will Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) move districts or run against Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) in the 11th Congressional District?

Kathy Manning
Kathy Manning

Foxx, now the 5th District rep, has filed to run (she did so as soon as the maps were approved). Lawmakers created “bubbles” – the term is based on the shapes of district lines – in Watauga County that are in the 11th District that include Foxx’s home. The rest of the county – arguably 98% — is in the 14th District. The 11th then stretches across the counties along the Virginia border, from Ashe through Rockingham, and down into Wilkes and Guilford counties and Greensboro, which is how Manning enters the discussion.

Guilford County, which currently is combined with greater Winston-Salem to form the 6th District, was split among the 7th, 10th and 11th districts. Manning, a resident of Greensboro who represents the current 6th, would have to move if she wanted to live in a district (which is not required) and represent it.

Manning has not said how she is leaning, and her spokesperson has not responded to questions about her timetable to make that decision.

Is the 7th District a viable option?

None of those districts would appear to favor a Democratic candidate, based on voting records. But there also is no incumbent in the 7th District, which includes the eastern half of Guilford County across to the southwestern portion of Wake County and northwestern portion of Harnett County. It includes all of Alamance, Chatham, Randolph and Lee counties and an eastern slice of Davidson County.

In tracking candidates in that district, the N&O lists Marvin Boguslawski, Peter Boykin, Jennyfer Bucardo, Christian Castelli, Bo Hines and Kent Keirsey among Republicans. Ballotpedia also shows a Democrat, Montel Richardson, but there is no immediately available evidence that he is a candidate.

A curiosity here is Hines. Earlier this year he announced he would run against Foxx in the 5th District. Then he announced he would run in the 13th because Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) was running for the U.S. Senate. It’s also unclear where he lives. Hines is a former football star who grew up in Iredell County but went to high school in Charlotte. He eventually graduated from Yale and then attended law school at Wake Forest. Earlier this year, he was registered to vote in Forsyth County.

But he has backers. Because of his earlier announcements Hines had as of Sept. 30 more than $371,000 in contributions for his first campaign, Ballotpedia showed.

Still, what eventually happens in the 7th District may be affected more by whose names aren’t yet on the ballot.

Will former Congressman Mark Walker drop out of the race for U.S. Senate and run for this seat?

FILE – In this Sept. 18, 2019, file photo, Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C. speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. With three of North Carolina’s 13 U.S. House incumbents not seeking reelection, nearly 30 congressional candidates are scrambling to win Tuesday, March 4, 2020 primaries in these districts with hopes of soon filling the rare number of open seats (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Walker represented the 6th District for two terms before deciding not to run after the district was redrawn, and he was among the first to file to run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Richard Burr. Besides Budd, that GOP race also features former Gov. Pat McCrory, and there were 10 other Republicans listed by Ballotpedia.

(There also are eight Democrats – after Erica Hill recently pulled out to run in the 1st House District – and three independents listed by Ballotpedia.)

But since former President Donald Trump threw his support behind Budd for Senate, Walker has been encouraged to drop out of the race and run for the House. The 7th District is an obvious option, but Walker has been noncommittal.

Another potential candidate is state House Majority Whip Jon Hardister (R-Guilford County). The News & Observer in Raleigh noted that Hardister is considering a run (his state House district is squarely aligned within the 7th), but he didn’t respond to an email seeking comment about that candidacy.

Who will succeed Budd as he runs for the Senate?

Republican Congressman Ted Budd speaks at a Make America Great Again rally in Greensboro International Airport, in Greensboro, North Carolina on October 27, 2020. (Photo by Grant BALDWIN / AFP) (Photo by GRANT BALDWIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Republican Congressman Ted Budd speaks at a Make America Great Again rally in Greensboro International Airport, in Greensboro, North Carolina on October 27, 2020. (Photo by Grant BALDWIN / AFP) (Photo by GRANT BALDWIN/AFP via Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Denver)

Budd’s Congressional district in the new map is the 12th, but the district also extends south into Lincoln County, and incumbent Republican Patrick McHenry of Denver lives there. McHenry has been in Congress since 2005 and represents the current 10th District.

The N&O says there are no current opponents to McHenry. Forsyth County is entirely in this district, along with Yadkin, Catawba, Lincoln and northern Iredell.

Who else is running in the 11th District?

Representative Virginia Foxx (ANDREW DYE/Journal)

Although Foxx filed quickly, she is not listed by Ballotpedia among candidates for the 11th District seat. There are seven Democrats and two Republicans on that list. The N&O’s report says no one else has filed in that district. Ballotpedia’s list includes Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, of Asheville, who had entered the race under the original district alignment to challenge Republican Madison Cawthorn and Republican Bruce O’Connell, who has generated financial support, but he is from Candler in Buncombe County and would appear to be a candidate in the 14th District, too. The N&O shows no challengers for Foxx.

What about the 10th District?

U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson

The new 10th District includes the southwestern corner of Guilford County, both north and east of High Point, the western swathe of Davidson County, the southern half of Iredell County and all of Davie, Rowan and Cabarrus Counties.

U.S. Rep Richard Hudson of Concord, who currently represents the 8th District, is listed as the incumbent in the 10th. The N&O shows Democrat Scott Huffman in the race. But Ballotpedia lists Democrat Maddie Parra as having filed to run in that district (as she says on her website). Parra is a resident of Clemmons, which, like all of Forsyth County, is in the 12th District. She did not respond immediately to an email to affirm she is running in the 10th or if she had moved into that district.

Odds and ends:

  • A recent poll by High Point University of 811 adults in North Carolina showed that President Joe Biden had an approval rating of 35%, and Gov. Roy Cooper’s approval was 44%. A little more than half (52%) disapproved of Biden, and 35% disapproved of Cooper. The polls were conducted in late October and early November before the infrastructure and the Build Back Better bills advanced and before the state budget deal.
  • Budd voted against the Build Back Better Bill that passed Congress last week (all Republicans did) and called it a “radical socialist spending spree.”
  • Outgoing Sen. Burr had this to say about retiring Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield from the 1st District: “For nearly two decades, Representative Butterfield has diligently served Eastern North Carolina with character and honor. I was proud to partner with him on a range of issues, including our work on the Lumbee federal recognition, HBCUs, military construction improvements, and securing hurricane relief funding for the first Congressional district. I wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
  • Said Hudson about Butterfield: “While we often disagreed on policy, as colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee we worked together on many important issues such as the Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act. Renee and I wish G.K. all the best as he begins this next chapter of his life.”

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