Jul
20
2011

2nd NC redistricting map more pointed than 1st one.

When the first North Carolina redistricting map came out at the beginning of July,  Democrats of course bawled like stuck calves.  Speaking objectively, this wasn’t a surprise: the way that it was set up, it put four Democratic Congressmen – Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre, Brad Miller, & Heath Shuler – at a serious disadvantage in the 2012 elections.  Put simply, the map threatened to flip NC from 6/7 GOP/DEM to 8/5 GOP/DEM, or even 10/3. If you examine the previous map, you’ll understand why such a dramatic shift; the Democrats went notoriously overboard in gerrymandering in 2000, when they controlled the process.  In short, we had a humdinger of a karmic adjustment going on in North Carolina.

But then something interesting happened: Rep. GK Butterfield (D, NC-01) started complaining.  Rep. Butterfield is a beneficiary (along with Rep. Mel Watts of NC-12) of the racial gerrymandering system set up in response to the Voting Rights Act; and he made some rather pointed objections to the first map, arguing that it ‘disenfranchised’ some of his former constituents by moving them into majority-white districts.  North Carolinan Republicans thought about it – and must have decided that they agreed, because they went into the maps again and redrew both Butterfield’s and Watt’s districts to make them more in line with the VRA’s perceived guidelines.

Of course, that meant that they had to… make some unavoidable choices:

The new map draws Democratic Reps. Brad Miller and David Price together into Price’s 4th district and puts Democratic Reps. Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell together in Kissell’s 8th district. The first version of the map did not pair any incumbents together and the latest, and likely final version, looks substantially different from that draft and the current map.

Glenn Reynolds thinks that the Department of Justice is going to intervene on this one, but I’m not exactly sure how they can justify a Voting Rights Act violation when the state legislature can clearly show that they have scrupulously preserved minority representation in the state of North Carolina, to the point of swiftly and decisively addressing issues brought forth by existing minority legislators.  That doing so puts the thumbscrews to four Democratic legislators is not in fact the state legislature’s problem – and neither should it be the problem of the Justice Department; political parties are not (and should not be) protected classes.  Put another way: elections have consequences, and one of them is that when you’ve spent ten years profiting from a blatantly unfair redistricting map, your political opponents are unlikely to be sympathetic when it turns out that you don’t like the new one.  And if reinforcing the lesson can be accomplished by giving you what you want, good and hard… well, they’ll be happy to oblige.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

3 Comments

  • Jim B says:

    North Carolina has to get the approval of the DOJ *OR* the courts. I have no doubt that the DOJ will find some spurrious reason to deny it, but they always have the option of appealing to the courts for approval.

  • One of the comments the map drawers made when they released the first map was that they asked Butterfield whether he wanted to have that tail in Raleigh or Durham. They wanted to give some urban (and high growth urban) areas to that VRA district in order to make sure that his district didn’t get left behind as the population grows in the next 10 years. Apparently he chose Raleigh, so that he could get two historically black colleges, Shaw and St. Augustine.

    http://bit.ly/rq5NlS (PDF)

    Now he’s asked for Durham instead.

    Personally, I don’t really care if the Dems get screwed hard by this plan or whatever plan we come up with. Turnabout is fair play. I would throw the VRA away and draw perfectly even districts everywhere, but I’m a jerk like that. I’d like to see me some blood sport politics where they actually have to run for office, not just coast to an easy victory in a safe district.

  • Catseye says:

    “Do not call up that which you can not put Down!” Why do I get the feeling that the dems never read Lovecraft. They are learning the hard way that starting the Tea Party was a lot easier then stopping it.

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