House speaker backs more transparent redistricting process

Speaker Tim Moore, who will once again lead the House Republican majority, says he likes the map-making process used to in 2019.

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NC Speaker of the House Tim Moore (left) at a press conference November 16, 2020.
Travis Fain
, WRAL statehouse reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — House Speaker Tim Moore, fresh off a vote of confidence from the state's newly re-elected House Republican majority, predicted Monday that next year's redistricting process will look a lot like last year's.
Moore, R-Cleveland, said he liked the way the voting maps, which the General Assembly was forced to redraw as part of a lawsuit targeting Republican gerrymanders, were drawn: By lawmakers who tweaked lines with the public able to watch on a livestream as the lines moved on a computer.

"[We'll] probably use that as a starting point," Moore said Monday, during a press conference to announce the re-election of the GOP's leadership slate in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, who heads the Republican majority in the legislature's other chamber, has said much the same thing. The more transparent process leaves a large question though: What maps lawmakers will use as a starting point.

Last year, it was a map drawn by experts for the left-leaning groups that had sued the majority. That won't exist when lawmakers gather sometime next year to redraw their General Assembly districts and North Carolina's congressional ones based on new U.S. census data.

The process will be high stakes: Partisan map-making can be used to lock in legislative majorities. Democrats had pressed for a more independent process, potentially one where lawmakers wouldn't draw the lines at all, but they failed to persuade North Carolina voters to put them in the majority in Raleigh.

That process won't start for months. Moore said lawmakers likely won't have the data they need from the census until mid-year, and other priorities will be up first when the General Assembly gathers again Jan. 13.

The session may look much like the last several. Republicans control the House and the Senate, but don't have veto-proof majorities, and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper won a second term.

House Republicans gathered Monday, in person and virtually, to elect their leadership, which will give Moore a fourth term as speaker once the House formally votes him in early next year. That would tie a state record for consecutive legislative terms as speaker, according to the Associated Press.

The rest of the GOP leadership slate was re-elected by Republicans Monday as well, all unanimously, Moore said:

  • Speaker Pro Tem Sarah Stevens, R-Surry
  • House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Wayne
  • Deputy Majority Leader Brenden Jones, R-Columbus
  • Conference Leader John Szoka, R-Cumberland
  • Majority Whip Jon Hardister, R-Guilford
  • Joint Conference Leader Pat Hurley, R-Randolph

Asked whether the state can avoid a repeat of the last two years, where Republicans clashed with Cooper and the two sides never reached a deal on the state budget, Moore said he's spoken with Cooper and promised to look for opportunities to work together.

He also had some advice for the governor: "Don't take one issue and use that to hold up everything else," he said.

Cooper pressed Republicans the last two years to expand Medicaid, an insistence that Republicans said derailed other budget talks.

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