Mapmaker, Mapmaker

New North Carolina congressional map shores up Manning, other incumbents

The latest map sets up a near-even split in the state’s congressional delegation

Gerry Broome/AP

Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC)

North Carolina’s latest congressional map, issued Tuesday, gives freshman Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) a strong chance of keeping her seat, following a series of successful legal challenges to prior versions that were deemed too partisan.

The new map likely creates seven Republican, six Democratic and one swing district, according to Chris Cooper, the director of the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University. Should North Carolinains vote similarly to the way they did in the 2020 election, the state could end up sending seven Republicans and seven Democrats to the House next year, J. Michael Bitzer, a politics professor at Catawba College told Jewish Insider.

A panel of North Carolina trial court judges issued the new map after the state’s supreme court threw out the original map issued by North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature. The trial court judges rejected a new map proposed by the legislature, opting instead for a court-commissioned map drawn by outside experts.

Manning’s newly-drawn district is split 56% Democratic/44% Republican, according to Cooper, under the latest map and includes her entire home county, Guilford. The state legislature’s original map cleaved Manning’s current district into three.

“It’s good for Kathy Manning in almost every way,” Cooper added.

Manning plans to officially file for her reelection race upon returning from a delegation to Israel, a campaign spokesperson told JI. 

“Representing North Carolina in Congress is one of the greatest honors of my life,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to represent Guilford County and parts of Forsyth County and I will work hard to earn the support of voters in Rockingham and Caswell Counties.”

The new map complicates Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-NC) plans to run in a newly drawn Charlotte-area district. The map, which places Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and state House Speaker Tim Moore in the Charlotte-area district, may foreclose that possibility.

“It would be a pretty good leap for him to move to another district right now,” Bitzer said.

Should Cawthorn remain in his current district, Cooper said, the freshman Republican will likely be on a glide path to a second term. Cawthorn has not made an announcement regarding his plans since the newest map was released.

The trial court’s decision triggered the reopening of candidate filings for congressional hopefuls. But the Republican-controlled state legislature may still seek to appeal the trial court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, its last avenue to block the map’s implementation for the 2022 cycle.

Cooper said there has been “a good bit of saber-rattling” about a potential Supreme Court challenge.

North Carolina could face additional rounds of mapmaking and litigation after the midterm election is over. The trial court made clear in its decision that the new congressional map will only apply for the 2022 election, allowing the state legislature to redraw it in 2023, according to Bitzer.

Should Republicans take the majority on the state’s elected supreme court in November, the supreme court “would be very willing to overturn” the new maps and allow Republicans to implement a map more favorable to them,” Bitzer said.

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