GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) has decided to stay home in his 11th District to seek a return to Congress.
Cawthorn, who had said he would run in what he thought was going to be the 13th Congressional District, decided after the final maps were approved last week by the North Carolina Supreme Court that he wouldn’t move.
He issued a release Monday to say the “newly solidified” 11th includes almost all of the counties he currently serves. The district starts in Rutherford and McDowell counties and goes west from there. He said he filed on Monday.
Republicans Bruce O’Connell of Candler, Wendy Marie-Limbaugh Nevarez of Asheville, Matthew Burril of Fletcher, Chuck Edwards of Flat Rock and Rod Honeycutt of Alexander have filed for that GOP nomination, too. O’Connell raised more than $1 million in the fourth quarter in that race and has said he will continue to campaign.
A Libertarian, David Adam Coatney has filed in that district, but no Democrat has submitted paperwork.
Candidates continued to file for all state and local offices as of 8 a.m. this past Friday is set to continue until noon this Friday, with a primary on May 17, but all of that might be up in the air, of course, because the Republicans who lost the redistricting case in state courts have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court case
The justices set a 5 p.m. deadline for Wednesday for a response in the case, and on Monday Republicans in Pennsylvania entered a similar appeal to overturn that state’s Supreme Court, too. SCOTUS set a Thursday deadline for that response.
It’s unclear when and how the federal justices might consider this case. Just last month they overruled a lower court and stopped a redistricting change in Alabama because that came too near the filing period, citing something called the “Purcell ruling.” They also have ruled previously that state courts can decide state redistricting matters.
In announcing the appeal, state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said its foundation is that, under the NC constitution, only the General Assembly could draw electoral maps. He said the courts had no right to do so.
The ruling on Thursday by the GOP-dominant 3-judge panel in Wake County Superior Court, which was developed with the help of three former judges appointed as special masters, included specific language perhaps designed to address this argument.
The trial court adopted the remedial state legislative maps drawn two weeks ago by lawmakers, under direction of the NC Supreme Court, but the judges/special masters reworked the one for Congress.
In that decision, the court used the word “modified” rather than “replaced” when it came to the work lawmakers had done. “We conclude that the appropriate remedy is to modify the Legislative Remedial Congressional Plan to bring it into compliance with the Supreme Court’s order,” they wrote.
One expert observer, Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College in Salisbury, wrote on Twitter that there is precedent in this matter from 2015 that would have to be addressed for the justices to rule on the argument, but he also said anything can happen.
“Ultimately, there’s the issue of ‘precedent’ which some justices would hold is important, even though they may have disliked the precedent set in the issue,” he wrote on Twitter “Others may see bad precedent as needing to be overturned.”
There remains confusion on the ballot among candidates who filed in December and whether they remain in those same districts. Candidates for Congress are not required to live in those districts. But some have filed this month, and those are the candidates we track:
- There are now six Democrats and nine Republicans who have filed in the U.S. Senate race. Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) and former Gov. Pat McCrory are among the Republicans. Mark Walker of Greensboro and Marjorie Eastman of Cary have not formally filed. Presumptive nominee Cheri Beasley has filed on the Democratic side.
- The 4th Congressional District, which includes Alamance County, has a field of six Democrats and two Republicans, and more are expected. Incumbent David Price (D-Durham) is retiring.
- In the 5th District, a Republican stronghold along the Virginia and Tennessee borders and including Davie, Wilkes and Yadkin counties, incumbent Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) is being challenged in the primary by Michael Ackerman of Boone and Adina Safta, whose address is Raleigh. No Democrats have filed.
- The new 6th District figures to lean Democrat, even with inclusion of Rockingham and almost all of Caswell counties along with Guilford and the southeastern slice of Forsyth County, and four Republicans have filed to run against incumbent Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), who hasn’t filed but has said she would. Robert Thomas of a Durham address, Bill Schuch of Greensboro, Laura Pichardo of Pelham and Gerry Austin of Greensboro have entered the race.
- Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) has indicated he will run in the 8th District, which includes Davidson County. No one else has filed in this district.
- In the 9th District, which includes Randolph and Montgomery counties, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Concord) is moving over to run here. Democrat Ben Clark of Raeford also has filed.
- Powerful Republican Patrick Henry (R-Statesville) will be challenged by Richard Speer of Lincolnton in the 10th District, and five Republicans have filed in the 11th, where Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) would be the incumbent if he decided to change his mind about jumping districts.
- In the new 14th District, Ram Mammadov of Pineville is seeking the Democratic nomination in what is seen as a Democratic district in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties. Jonathan Simpson is after the GOP nod.
First Senate debate
Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate gathered Saturday in Raleigh for their first debate. Eastman, McCrory and Walker traded attacks on Democrats, Joe Biden and each other along with barbs for the empty podium that the conservative John Locke Foundation had set up for Budd (R-Advance).
Budd, who was attending CPAC in Orlando, did not participate. He has said he will debate after the candidate filing period is concluded. No other debates have been announced.