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Democrat Natasha Marcus will not move to stay in state Senate — but could run for another office

Natasha Marcus was first elected to the State Senate in 2018.
Natasha Marcus
Natasha Marcus was first elected to the state Senate in 2018.

Mecklenburg Democratic State Sen. Natasha Marcus said she will leave the Senate next year — instead of moving so she could run in a different district. The Republican General Assembly recently passed a new map that places her in a heavily Republican district.

The GOP-drawn map “double bunks” Marcus in a conservative-leaning district represented by Iredell Republican Vickie Sawyer. And because state legislators must live in the district they represent, Marcus would have had to leave her Davidson home and find a new place to live, in order to have a realistic chance at staying in the Senate by running in a district she might win.

She said her colleagues in the legislature urged her to do just that.

“They wanted me to stay and they definitely emphasized this idea of we can’t let them win, we can’t let them do this to you and kick you out and make you leave the Senate,” Marcus said.

Marcus said she decided it wasn’t worth it, in part because the pay for state legislators is only $14,000 a year.

She also said she didn’t want to leave her home in Davidson, where she raised her children.

Marcus is now in Senate District 37, which includes a few precincts in north Mecklenburg and all of Iredell County. The new map creates an open seat in Senate District 41, which includes uptown Charlotte and much of northwest Charlotte.

Marcus said she’s considering a run for a statewide office, but didn’t say which one. She could also run for an open state House seat in north Mecklenburg, currently held by Republican John Bradford. He's leaving the General Assembly to run for state treasurer.

Marcus has been a vocal critic of Republicans since she was elected in 2018. She is also an outspoken supporter of abortion rights.

A year ago, Republican lawmakers also double-bunked Marcus with Sawyer, which would have made it difficult for her to win her current term. But that map was overturned by the courts, and a new map placed her in a district that only includes north Mecklenburg.

That allowed her to win a third term.

“I saw this coming, they did this to me before,” Marcus said. “But it still stings that they would do it. Just because they can do it doesn’t mean they should.”

She added: “This isn’t good for the constituents I represent and it’s not good for the north Mecklenburg towns.”

In addition to Marcus, Wake Democratic State Sen. Lisa Grafstein was also double-bunked with another Democrat, Sen. Minority Whip Jay Chaudhuri. Graftstein said she would move so she could run in a different district.

Last year, the state Supreme Court, which had a 4-3 Democratic majority, had overturned political maps that it said unfairly favored Republicans. But the court now has a 5-2 Republican majority. It said earlier this year that partisan gerrymandering was OK and that map-making is a political act that resides with the legislature.

Last week, Mecklenburg Democratic House member John Autry announced he would not run for reelection next year.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
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