Conventional wisdom would dictate that two of a good thing is better than one.
But don’t try to sell that to U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, who is miffed that his home county of Robeson has been hacked in half by Republicans drawing new district maps for the U.S. House, which would double the number of House representatives for this county, but imperil McIntyre’s bid for a ninth term in 2012.
The maps, as currently drawn, remove from McIntyre’s District 7 the western and northern parts of Robeson County, placing them in District 8, where Larry Kissell, a Democrat like McIntyre, is the incumbent. McIntyre is fresh off winning a close election with Republican Illario Pantano, who has already announced plans to run again next year.
McIntyre’s victory in November wasn’t secured by the vote in Robeson County, but he did garner almost three-fourths of the ballots here, and ran especially strong in Pembroke, where Lumbee Indians rewarded his long and determined fight to gain them federal recognition. The loss of any Robeson County territory certainly will complicate McIntyre’s bid for another term, but Kissell will benefit from the infusion of mostly Democratic voters.
McIntyre can find some solace in this: Of the four Democrats most endangered by the districts as they have been proposed, his seat is probably the safest.
Phillip Stephens, chairman of the county Republican Party, has a different — and unsurprising — take than McIntyre on the fracture of Robeson County. Stephens says Robeson will instantly become a battleground county, no longer taken for granted by Democrats and written off by Republicans — and candidates will have to make promises here to earn votes, checks that presumably will be cashed to the benefit of those who live here.
So the merits of a divided Robeson County depend squarely on the vantage point.
Republicans have to be taking pleasure in watching Democrats squirm and express indignation over gerrymandered districts that will favor the GOP. Democrats have been drawing North Carolina congressional districts to favor their own election for more than a century. That explains why a state that has awarded a Republican president its electoral votes every election from 1976 until President Obama’s narrow win in 2008, has historically sent more Democrats to Congress.
There’s a lot of muster that the proposed maps must pass before they become law, including getting the thumbs up from the U.S. Justice Department. Lawsuits could continue as long as a decade, when it will be time for the next maps to be drawn — or, should we say — rigged.
We all know what they say about payback.