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New N.C. Map Gives Democrats More Heartburn

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Tar Heel State Republicans attributed the changes made to the new map largely to the requests of Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, an accusation he denied.

North Carolina Republicans released a second draft of a new Congressional map Tuesday that is worse politically for Democrats than the original version released earlier this month.

The new map draws Democratic Reps. Brad Miller and David Price together into Price’s 4th district and puts Democratic Reps. Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell together in Kissell’s 8th district. The first version of the map did not pair any incumbents together and the latest, and likely final version, looks substantially different from that draft and the current map. Tar Heel State Republicans attributed the changes made to the new map largely to the requests of Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, an accusation he denied.

“We felt we had a very compact, pre-clearance map for district No. 1, and Butterfield decided that he felt that he needed the Section 5s and, in essence, we gave that back and we moved him into Durham,” state Sen. Bob Rucho (R), chairman of the chamber’s redistricting committee, said in an interview.

Rucho was referring to counties covered by Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The proposed 1st district increases the percentage of African-Americans and the percentage of voting-age African-Americans in the district, which Butterfield has represented for four terms. The district remains heavily Democratic.

Rucho added that McIntyre and Kissell, as well as Miller and Price, were drawn together as the result of adjusting the 1st district.

“That wasn’t our intent to begin with, but we had no alternative as we proceeded to adjust because of the request by Butterfield,” he said. “We believe the maps are fair, legal and competitive.”

Butterfield said he did “express [his] outrage” at the first draft of the map, which took five Section 5-covered counties out of his district. And while he was “cautiously comfortable” with his new draft district, he said re-enfranchising African-Americans in the covered districts did not necessarily nor logically lead to the current draft map.

The map released Tuesday moved Butterfield’s district out of Wake County and into Durham County.

“Now they’re saying because I stood up for the voting rights of minorities in those five counties that were removed, the only way they could do this thing was to go into Durham County and to get me out of Wake County. That is not the case,” he said in an interview a few hours after the new map was released.

“They could have taken my district in any number of directions,” he said. “But they have the power of the pen ... and at some point it will be tested in the courts.”

Butterfield added that he didn’t think a map with 10 Republican districts and three Democratic ones properly represented North Carolina.

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