Two pairs of House Democrats together in NC congressional map

Posted July 19, 2011 1:34 p.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2011 6:56 p.m. EDT

— Republican mapmakers for North Carolina clamped down further Tuesday on the hopes of Democratic incumbents to return to Congress in 2013 as their latest proposed boundaries would put two pairs of current members in the same districts for potential primaries.

The latest draft map for North Carolina's 13 U.S. House seats for the next decade would place the residences of Congressmen David Price and Brad Miller in the same Piedmont district, said state Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, the state House's chief mapmaker. The homes of Congressmen Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell would wind up in the same Sandhills district, Lewis said.

While a North Carolina resident can run for any congressional seat in the state, a candidate's decision to run outside of the person's home district puts the candidate at a disadvantage.

The changes came after GOP state legislators said they would adjust a July 1 map proposal to respond to concerns raised by 1st District Rep. G.K. Butterfield and others about his majority-black district and the U.S. Voting Rights Act when the initial proposal was released three weeks ago.

While Butterfield's boundaries were adjusted to include Durham County voters, remove Wake County votes and restore five eastern counties that face more scrutiny under anti-discrimination law, surrounding districts also had to be redrawn to ensure each district has exactly the same population. Lewis said that led to so-called "double-bunking" of incumbents.

"When you move one part of the map and ... you have to have the exact same number of people in every single district. Then you have to wind up making changes in almost every other district," Lewis told reporters.

The amended map puts Miller, who represents the 13th District from Raleigh, in the same 4th District with Price, the dean of the Democratic delegation from Chapel Hill. McIntyre, whose 7th District currently covers all or parts of nine southeastern counties, would be drawn into Kissell's 8th District, which currently stretches from Cumberland County to Charlotte.

Price said the new map "makes a mockery of the notion that districts should be compact and include communities of interest."

The 4th District now includes Durham and Orange counties and parts of Wake and Chatham counties, he noted. Under the proposed map, it would include parts of seven counties.

"I hope the General Assembly will think hard and consult widely before considering this map,” Price said in a statement.

The so-called "double-bunking" is not surprising since Miller said his Raleigh apartment sat barely 200 yards within the 13th Congressional District in the first edition of the new boundaries. McIntyre's Lumberton home was placed one block within his current 7th District.

The amended map was still expected to give North Carolina Republican candidates a better chance to win more congressional seats. Democrats have a 7-6 advantage among North Carolina's House delegation, and lost only one seat in the 2010 national GOP wave, when Republican Renee Ellmers upset Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge.