North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

October 20, 2023

The General Assembly returned to Raleigh briefly this week for a one-day round of committee meetings to discuss the newly proposed redistricting maps for the state’s congressional and legislative maps. No votes were held, but that did not prevent the committee meetings from running several hours long, filled with questions from Democratic members about the criteria used to redraw district boundaries. The proposed maps would expand Republican power in both the General Assembly and North Carolina’s Congressional delegation. Some changes to the maps are expected, albeit likely inconsequential, before they are officially voted on next week.

Redistricting Begins

This week the North Carolina Republican-led General Assembly unveiled new redistricting proposals for the 2024 election, which redraw the state’s congressional and legislative boundaries. Earlier this year, the North Carolina Supreme Court, with its newly installed Republican-majority, reversed a previous holding to say redistricting using partisan election data does not violate the state constitution. The ruling leaves the decision-making authority over redistricting with the General Assembly.

The current Congressional map, established in 2022, offers an even distribution between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House, with seven seats each. The proposed changes, however, could provide the GOP with a majority of the congressional seats. Legislators unveiled two proposals (CBP-5 and CCJ-1) that are wildly different but achieve the same partisan results. According to political analysists, the new maps would give Republicans either 10 or 11 assured seats of the state’s 14 total congressional seats.

Three of the state’s current Democratic members of Congress would likely lose their seats, including Wiley Nickel (D-NC13), Kathy Manning (D-NC06) and Jeff Jackson (D-NC14). In a tweet after the maps were posted, Jackson, who has previously raised speculation as a potential candidate for Attorney General, said he was “probably toast in Congress.”

The newly introduced legislative maps also move to consolidate power for Republicans in the General Assembly. According to data analysis, the House redistricting plan would create 71 Republican-leaning districts and 49 Democratic-leaning districts. Some incumbent Democratic members would see their districts become much more difficult to hold, including districts in Wake, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, and Buncombe counties. Two Democratic incumbents, Representative Laura Budd (D-Mecklenburg) and Representative Wesley Harris (D-Mecklenburg) are moved into the same district, although Harris has announced his campaign for state treasurer.

Likewise, the Senate redistricting plan would attempt to grow Republicans’ numbers in the chamber. According to data analysis, the new map includes 32 Republican-leaning districts and 18 Democratic-leaning districts. Several Senate Democrats would face potential electoral issues under the new map. Senate Minority Whip Jay Chaudhuri (D-Wake) and Senator Lisa Grafstein (D-Wake) are moved into the same district to make room for a competitive open seat in southern Wake County. Additionally, Senator Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg) would likely lose her seat due to being moved into the same district as Senator Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) in a Republican-leaning district.

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper criticized the new maps in a statement, describing them as “illegal maps” that show “gerrymandering on steroids.” Other Democratic leaders, including Senator Dan Blue (D-Wake) and Representative Robert Reives (D-Chatham) issued a statement saying the redistricting process was “secretive” and “violate the rights of minority voters.”

Next week, both legislative chambers will vote on the maps. Several amendments are expected, but none that change the overall partisan outcome of the proposals.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, October 23

10:00 AM Senate: Session
11:00 AM House: Session
3:00 PM House: Redistricting