NC Republicans’ new gerrymandered maps could wipe out these Democrats

The North Carolina House Chamber. Photo Credit: Dylan Rhoney

By Dylan Rhoney

October 26, 2023

North Carolina Republicans voted this week to pass their own newly drawn state legislative and congressional maps, which will allow the party to maintain and even expand its extreme stranglehold on power in a state that President Biden narrowly lost by just under a point and a half.

Republicans, who already have a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly (72-48 in the House and 30-20 in the Senate), could see those majorities grow thanks to the new maps, which were drawn in private, without Democratic input.

In the state Senate, incumbent Natasha Marcus of Mecklenburg County, who has been an outspoken critic of the GOP supermajority, has been drawn into a district with Republican Sen. Vickie Sawyer. Meanwhile, Sen. Lisa Grafstein’s district in Wake County has been put in the same district as another Democrat, Sen. Jay Chaudhuri.

Both Grafstein and Marcus are weighing their options on how they will proceed with their legislative careers.

Meanwhile in the House, three incumbent Democrats, Reps. Diamond Staton-Williams, Lindsey Prather, and Terrance Everitt, who won in 2022, have been placed in districts that will be more difficult to win in under the new Republican-drawn maps.

Here is a breakdown of the districts and counties that are most impacted, and how they will affect North Carolina’s democracy and its residents.

 

Wake County

In Wake County, the largest and one of the fastest growing counties in the state, there are three legislative districts affected by the new maps.

Sen. Lisa Grafstein is a first-term legislator in Senate District 13, which covers much of North Raleigh, and ends just below Wake Forest. Under the new maps that Republicans passed, Grafstein will be in the same district as Sen. Jay Chaudhuri. Chaudhuri, who is also a Democrat, is currently in District 15, which is just south of Grafstein’s district and covers part of Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina State University, Southwest Raleigh, and parts of Apex.

On Thursday, Grafstein announced that she would run for the newly drawn Senate District 13 that covers most of Southern Wake County, including Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Willow Spring, part of Apex, and some Eastern Wake County Precincts.

Grafstein is the only LGBTQ member of the State Senate, meaning that the community could be left without a voice in the chamber if she were to not be a member of that body.

Rep. Terrance Everitt is a member of the North Carolina House, who currently represents District 35, which covers part of Northeast Wake County and Wake Forest. Under the newly drawn maps, Everitt’s new district would include more rural parts of Eastern Wake County and some of Northwest Wake County.

He won his current district by just under 6% in the 2022 midterms. However, based on recent election results, this district could be more difficult for him to win under the new maps. While President Biden won Wake County by 27% in 2020, most of the precincts in Everitt’s district went for former President Donald Trump. Furthermore, every precinct that has been added to Everitt’s district in Eastern and Western Wake County all voted for Trump, too.

Everitt has been highly critical of current House Speaker Tim Moore, and in August, even requested that Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman investigate him for a series of charges, including bribery and misconduct. Freeman declined.

 

Mecklenburg County

Like Grafstein, Sen. Natasha Marcus has been drawn into a legislative district with another incumbent. However, unlike Grafstein, Marcus now shares a district with Republican Sen. Vickie Sawyer of Iredell County.

Marcus currently represents District 41, which includes Davidson, Cornelius, Huntersville and stretches down to the Charlotte Douglas Airport, just west of Uptown Charlotte.

However, under the new maps, Marcus’ new district would be a fraction of the one she currently represents. The new district covers a sliver of North Mecklenburg and all of Iredell County, where her likely General Election opponent, Sen. Sawyer lives. In 2022, Sawyer ran unopposed in the General Election, and in 2020, Trump won Iredell County by 32%.

The district is all but unwinnable for Marcus–or any Democrat–and she believes she was intentionally drawn into this district to end her time in the General Assembly.

“The mapmakers knew exactly where my house is and seemingly did this on purpose to try to squeeze me out of the NC Senate,” Marcus said in a statement.

Marcus has been highly critical of the actions the General Assembly has taken in this session, including Republicans’ new 12-week abortion ban, anti-LGBTQ bills that passed over the summer, and funding of crisis pregnancy centers that was included in the state budget.

In her statement, Marcus also said that she is considering her options as it pertains to her political future.

“I am considering my choices and will update you when I know more.”

 

Buncombe County

State Rep. Lindsey Prather currently represents part of Western Buncombe County in the North Carolina House.

Prather currently represents District 115 and won the district by just over 15% in 2022. However, she lost the precincts in the western part of her district, including precinct 47.1, which she lost by over 40%.

Under the current map, Prather will be placed in District 116, which will include most of rural Buncombe County. This new district includes Republican-leaning precincts that are currently represented by her Democratic colleagues, Representatives Caleb Rudow and Eric Ager.

While Biden carried Buncombe County by around 21% in 2020 and the county as whole hasn’t gone for a Republican since George W. Bush in 2004, Trump won all but two of the border precincts added to Prather’s district.

 

Cabarrus County

Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams is a first-term legislator who was narrowly elected in 2022 by a margin of just over 2% (629 votes).

Her seat was one of the most competitive of the cycle, and under the new maps, her chances of being reelected will get even more difficult.

The new district Staton-Williams will likely be running in is District 73, which includes part of the district currently occupied by incumbent Republican Kristin Baker, a key architect of the 12-week abortion ban, who recently announced she would not be running for reelection next year. Baker ran unopposed in 2022.

While Staton-Williams will not have to face an incumbent legislator next fall, the precincts added to the district make what was always going to be a highly competitive and difficult race to win even tougher.

Some of the Northwest Cabarrus precincts that Staton-Williams will now have in her district voted 80-90% for Trump in 2020.

While Staton-Williams’ 2022 victory and other Democratic’ victories in suburban areas in recent years show that North Carolina’s suburban counties are trending blue, the new maps make it difficult to imagine history will repeat itself next fall.

Big Picture

In 2018, Democrats were able to break the Republican supermajority in both the House and Senate. However, based on the new, gerrymandered maps approved this week, it is unlikely that there will be a repeat of 2018.

Republicans will likely retain their supermajority in 2024, and they may even expand it.

Author

  • Dylan Rhoney

    Dylan Rhoney is an App State grad from Morganton who is passionate about travel, politics, history, and all things North Carolina. He lives in Raleigh.

CATEGORIES: POLITICS | VOTING

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