NC Senate To Take Up New Congressional Map

Nov 15, 2019

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) urges fellow lawmakers to support the newly drawn congressional district map.
Credit Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The North Carolina Senate could vote Friday on newly redrawn congressional district lines to replace the current electoral map. A Republican majority pushed the map through the House on Thursday, hoping to avoid postponing North Carolina's Super Tuesday primaries in March.

Lawmakers are fulfilling a state court's request to redo North Carolina's 13 congressional districts. The Wake County Superior Court panel indicated the current boundaries had been gerrymandered with excessive partisan bias and blocked the current map's use for the 2020 elections.

The proposed replacement map could reduce the GOP's 10 to 3 congressional majority by at least two seats. But the new map has still drawn criticism from Democrats and in public comment, in part, for a perceived lack of transparency in the redrawing process.

"I recognize the truncated schedule that we have before us, trying to meet the deadline of getting these in place before the December 2nd filing date posed a potential problem for the public hearings around the state," said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), referring to the deadline for candidates who want to run in 2020.

"But I do think that there are many people who felt like the two hours that were provided [Wednesday] at 10 o'clock on a workday, in Raleigh, was inadequate to address concerns for people around the state and those who couldn't get off work to come down and speak," Harrison said.

But Republican Representative and Redistricting Committee Chairman David Lewis defended the new map's fairness. Lewis said lawmakers did not use partisan data or past election results to construct the district boundaries, maintained equal populations, and strove to avoid splitting counties and precincts. Additionally, Lewis said legislators took into consideration the public statements made at Wednesday's hearing as well as the more than 1,000 public comments posted online.

"Politics permeates what we do up here," he said Thursday on the House floor, during flood debate over the new map, complaining that many people were predisposed to opposing any map that emerged from the redistricting process.

Lewis notably said that in 2016, during the last redistricting, he proposed giving congressional Republicans a 10 to 3 advantage because an 11 to 2 edge wasn't possible.