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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.

The four safe Democratic districts are expected to be: the two majority-minority districts currently represented by Reps. Mel Watt and G.K. Butterfield; a third majority non-white district; and a white, affluent district anchored by the Raleigh-Durham area. But as the details of a new Congressional map get hammered out in legislative committees, Republicans say final decisions on the new lines have not yet been made.

“Everything is still being finalized and everything is still being checked. Until that happens, we won’t know exactly what the maps will look like,” said a North Carolina Republican with knowledge of the redistricting.

Republicans see a number of ways to get rid of Miller’s district, including dismantling the 13th district entirely and placing it in a different part of the state.

Republicans also say Miller might be drawn into fellow Democratic Rep. David Price’s Chapel Hill-Durham-based 4th district, which sets up the potential of a Member-versus-Member primary.

Miller’s office declined to comment, but it did say he was running for re-election.

One potential GOP challenger for Miller is Nathan Tabor, a tea-party-aligned businessman and chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party.

Republicans say Kissell might well be the easiest target in redistricting because of the 8th district’s geography. By cutting Fayetteville out of the district’s eastern side and parts of the Charlotte region on its western side, the seat becomes more Republican. One potential GOP opponent for Kissell, depending on how the final lines are drawn, is businessman Pat Molamphy.

Geography might end up helping McIntyre. Bordered on one side by the Atlantic Ocean and on another by South Carolina, the 7th district will be more difficult for the GOP in North Carolina to tinker with than those of his other vulnerable colleagues. Still, Republicans see a path to swinging his district, which has been represented by a Democrat since the 1800s, into their column. Regardless of the new lines, GOP insiders tell Roll Call that ex-Marine Ilario Pantano, who lost to McIntyre in 2010, is likely to take another run at the Congressman.

Republicans also see the prospect of McIntyre and Kissell being drawn into the same district.

Republicans say they need to shore up freshman Rep. Renee Ellmers’ (R) 2nd district but that other GOP incumbents are safe. Democrats hope they will still be able to target the 2nd, which was held by Democrat Bob Etheridge for 14 years. And they note that the more Republicans who are moved into the 2nd, the harder it will be to dilute Democrats in the districts of McIntyre, Kissell and Miller.

The GOP also hopes to weaken Shuler’s 11th district in the western part of the state by adding population from the neighboring 10th district, which is very Republican. If the new lines were to place Democratic Buncombe County, where Asheville is located, outside the 11th, Shuler could face an even steeper challenge than he did in 2010. But no matter the district lines, to beat him, Republicans will need a good candidate.

Republicans in the Tar Heel State and in Washington, D.C., were bullish on their recruitment prospects this cycle, citing the substantial opportunity to add seats in North Carolina.

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