Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

GOP Sees Red, Not Carolina Blue, in N.C. Gains

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Rep. Brad Miller has no friends left in the North Carolina Legislature, where he drew his own district 10 years ago from a perch on the state Senate redistricting panel. Now, Republicans are making him their No. 1 target and looking for ways to dismantle his district.

Political payback comes in many forms.

It could be particularly biting this cycle for Rep. Brad Miller, who drew himself a Congressional district as a state legislator a decade ago. 

Now, the North Carolina Democrat is on the receiving end of the redistricting process, with the GOP-controlled state Legislature due to deliver retribution in the form of dismantling his district and making him its No. 1 target for defeat.

“Congressman Miller, people tend to believe, will be targeted. And it’s purely personal. He chaired the redistricting committee in the [state] Senate 10 years ago, and this is payback, if you will,” state Democratic Party Executive Director Jay Parmley said.

Paul Shumaker, a longtime GOP strategist in the state, said Miller was “absolutely” the most vulnerable among the House Democrats being targeted — namely Reps. Mike McIntyre, Larry Kissell and Heath Shuler.

Miller “doesn’t have any friends left in the Legislature,” Shumaker said.

State Republicans are now haggling behind closed doors over the first draft lines of the new Congressional map, to be released around July 1. The state’s Democratic governor does not have the legal authority to veto new lines.

Republicans see the Tar Heel State as a gold mine for gaining seats in the 2012 cycle.

“It’s a place where the lines 10 years ago were gerrymandered in such a way that unlocking the gerrymander that’s there will give us [the] opportunity to pick up more seats there than any other state in the country,” said a Republican with substantial knowledge of the state’s redistricting process. The GOP sees the opportunity to have eight Republican districts, four Democratic districts and one tossup district in the state.

But Democrats think that is a bridge too far.

“There are laws of unintended consequences that come out of these things all the time. And the greedier these guys get, the more difficult it is going to be to hold these districts. They can make them competitive, but they can’t make ’em solid,” longtime North Carolina Democratic consultant Thomas Mills said.

Democrats admit that the state will be an uphill battle for them, but they note the demographic trends — increases in Latino and black voting age population that outpaced increases in white voting age population — and the higher voter turnout generated by having the president on the ballot will be to their advantage. North Carolina will be a key battleground in the presidential election, a cause for optimism for Democrats.

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