Some preliminary redistricting maps have been released, and as far as local legislators go, it’s probably too early to know with certainty, but at first blush no one seems imperiled.
Although Republicans are in charge, it would be difficult for them to put a glove on our local legislators, three out of four of whom are Democrats, in a county such as Robeson, where about three out of four people calls themselves a Democrat.
U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, however, might face a tougher road. We know there are proposals that would put McIntyre in a district that extends westward along U.S. 74, which could mean he might have to face another incumbent Democrat, Larry Kissell. McIntyre’s chances against Kissell would depend largely on how much of District 7 remained in the new district.
If that were to happen, McIntyre might bite on the temptation to run for the U.S. Senate instead of taking on Kissell on his home turf.
Time will answer that question.
But what does seem clear in Raleigh is that the Republicans have adopted a diabolical strategy of making majority minority districts even more safe for minority candidates who run as Democrats. Yes, you read that correctly.
The Republicans understand that a district that is 54 percent minority is almost as likely to elect a Democrat as a district that is 60 percent minority, so they are drawing maps that are more heavily populated with minorities. That strengthens the likelihood of minority candidates being elected, but also helps Republicans. How so? Lumping a larger number of minorities into a district shallows the pool of minorities in adjoining districts, making those districts more likely to favor a Republican on Election Day.
It’s an interesting strategy, one that the Democrats and Gov. Bev Perdue have little power to stop.
Nothing at this point is guaranteed, except this. No matter how the districts are gerrymandered by Republicans, lawsuits will be coming. This is simply Act I of what will be a long-running play.