Local News

N.C. Primary Election Possible For Late Summer

Posted June 5, 2002

— North Carolina voters are one step closer to a primary election.

Tuesday, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the state Attorney General to temporarily block the enforcement of a state judge's redrawing of new legislative district maps.

The decision means maps approved last week by Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins are headed for federal approval and legislative elections could take place.

State Democrats say the maps could hurt minority districts; Republicans say it will help outsiders.

In Wake County, some people are concerned that they could be used as political pawns in this legislative map mess.

On Raleigh's southeast side, African Americans hold the legislative majority in the district. Under the new plan, the district will go back to having a white majority.

"I think it's ridiculous and ludicrous. I think what we should do is have a relook at that," said Cornell Everett, a campaign worker for legislative candidate Gene Jordan.

The U.S. Justice Department will have the final say on the new district, but Democrat Ronnie Sutton, who helped draw up the original lines, said lines that Judge Jenkins approved hurt minorities in Wake County.

"It now has two black districts, neither of which is 50 percent," said Sutton, D-Robeson County.

"That's going to cause us to come up with a whole new game plan," Everett said.

Republicans have a different take on the new lines, saying Democrats have kept things their way for too long.

"We have opened up areas now that people can feel comfortable running for and have a chance of winning. In the past, the districts were chosen for the incumbents," said Rep. Frank Mitchell, R-Iredell County.

The state Attorney General could still appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It's time for the Attorney General to realize he has lost seven cases. The Democrats are 0 for 7," Mitchell said.

It appears in this case, fairness is all in the eye of the beholder.

"This is a political situation," Sutton said. "It was political before it went to the courts, and the end result that will come out of the courts will be political."

Unless another court challenge happens, the state primary could take place as early as August 20.

The primary was originally scheduled for May 7.

Reporter:

Brian DeRoy

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