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The GOP-controlled North Carolina Legislature approved a congressional map that would give Republicans a larger majority of the state’s House seats if it survives legal challenges.
Republican lawmakers said they oversaw the most transparent redistricting process in state history, even as Democrats decried the plan as extreme partisan gerrymandering. North Carolina law doesn’t give the governor—in this case Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper—authority to veto the legislature’s drawing of district maps. The House approved the plan Thursday by a 65-49 vote while the Senate passed it Tuesday by a 27-22 margin.
Republicans currently hold eight of the state’s 13 seats in Congress, while Democrats hold five. The state is gaining a 14th seat through reapportionment following the results of the 2020 Census.
The maps would create 10 Republican and three Democratic districts, with one being competitive, according to Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter. “N.C. Republicans are going for the jugular,” Wasserman tweeted.
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Asher Hildebrand, an associate professor in public policy at Duke University, told reporters “the congressional map would likely result in Republicans winning at least 10 and possibly 11 of the state’s 14 congressional seats.” He called that an extreme and unfair advantage for one party, when North Carolina’s statewide election results have been closely split “for some time now.”
Republicans defended their choices in drawing the congressional map as efforts to create compact districts and avoid splitting cities, counties, and voting precincts as much as possible.
“The population of our state is such that Democrats have congregated themselves in urban areas,” state Sen. Warren Daniel (R), a cosponsor of the legislation creating the new map, said in a Nov. 1 committee meeting. To create a map where all or most congressional seats are split 50-50 between Republican and Democratic voters would require gerrymandering, he said.
The map pairs a handful of incumbent House members within the same districts, including Rep. Alma Adams (D) with Rep. Dan Bishop (R) in a Charlotte-area district. Members of Congress aren’t required to live in their districts, but can face criticism if they don’t.
At the same time, the Cleveland County home of state House Speaker Tim Moore (R) is covered by a district drawn west of Charlotte where no incumbent lives. Moore has been reported to be a likely candidate for Congress, although the Raleigh News & Observer quoted him saying he hasn’t decided whether to run.
Civil rights groups including the North Carolina NAACP sued to contest the state’s redistricting process, even before the congressional map was approved. In a complaint filed in state court Oct. 29, the groups argued the process should be halted because state lawmakers’ failure to consider racial demographics would result in a map that dilutes Black voting power.
North Carolina’s last regular redistricting cycle, following the 2010 census, led to a series of lawsuits spanning nearly the whole decade in federal and state courts. It resulted in the redrawing of both the congressional and state legislative district maps.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Marr in Atlanta at firstname.lastname@example.org