Redistricting Decision Makes for Primary Mayhem
Posted April 13, 1998
RALEIGH — The Supreme Court rejected a request to allow North Carolina's May 5th primary to go on as scheduled. The problem centers around the 12th congressional district, but it could affect the entire election.
Several lawmakers described the reaction at the Capitol as "chaos". Legislators are scrambling to come up with a plan for the May primary. One thing is certain. There won't be any congressional candidates on the ballot in North Carolina on May 5th.
All around the capitol, lawmakers expressed frustration with Monday's ruling.
"Understand they have to interpret the law," said Attorney General, Mike Easley. "That's their job, and I encourage them to do it. But keep in mind, some of us are trying to run a state down here."
The decision has thrown the election season into a tailspin. The legislature could go forward with everything but the congressional races on May 5th. Or, they could move all of the May primaries back, and hold one election in the fall. Holding two races could be expensive, and some wonder if voters will go to the polls for two primaries.
"Others say hold two because, for example, local elections," Representative Leo Daughtry of Smithfield explained. "Many school board candidates take office on July 1st, so we're trying to work through that right now."
Re-drawing the 12th congressional district will affect other district boundaries, possibly even add new candidates to the ballot. Lawmakers will have to prove they considered racial composition without giving it too much emphasis.
Senator Roy Cooper of Rocky Mount feels the option now is to put forth now a schedule, set a new election date for the congressional primary and redraw a map which will be approved by both the justice department and the federal courts.
The state is still challenging a ruling that declared the 12th district unconstitutional. That appeal hasn't been resolved. State lawmakers are in special session right now to tackle the issue of children's health insurance. They say Monday's ruling is a big distraction from that debate.