The District 7 race for Congress is looking like a rematch, but this time Lumberton Democrat Mike McIntyre, who sees a ninth term imperiled by Republicans with a pen and an easel, might have to face Ilario Pantano, a conservative Republican, on his home turf — assuming both survive primaries.
A second version of congressional district maps that was released this week pulled Robeson County out from underneath McIntyre’s feet, putting his Chestnut Street home in District 8, where Larry Kissell, a Democrat, has already said he would seek a second term. If the map as currently drawn survives essentially intact — and there is much muster to pass before that happens — McIntyre’s two roads to remain in Congress won’t be attractive, either run against Kissell in his district, or take on Pantano, who will be holding a deck stacked with aces provided by Republicans.
An obviously angry McIntyre said shortly after the release of the maps that he plans to run again in District 7. He would have to do so without most of Robeson County, which favored him with almost three-quarters of the vote in 2010, as the most recent maps leave only a small slice of his native county, to the north and northwest, in District 7. McIntyre not only loses Lumberton and its 22,000 residents, but the western part of the county, including Pembroke, which has rewarded him on Election Day for his continuing support of federal recognition for the Lumbee nation.
Some might be surprised to know that McIntyre would have won re-election in 2010 without Robeson County, but still only garnered 53 percent of the vote in the district, and it appears he would be the underdog in the newly drawn District 7, which is 57 percent Republican.
McIntyre and Kissell were two of four congressional Democrats who were double-bunked in the most recent maps, the others being Reps. David Price and Brad Miller, both big-time liberals. McIntyre seems a bit of an odd target for Republicans, as he often is confused with a Republican when it comes to social issues and defense.
The biggest loser as the maps are now drawn is Robeson County, which could lose an eight-term representative in McIntyre, someone sensitive to this county’s addiction to help at the federal level. If form were to hold during the next decade, Robeson County would find itself represented either by a Republican who would write this county off during Election Day, or a Democrat who would take the votes here for granted.
Regardless of party loyalty, all Robeson County residents should join McIntyre in hoping that the latest proposed maps for Robeson County are not final, but just another step in a process that is far from settled.