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Race Ratings: GOP Looks for Major Gains in North Carolina

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Rep. Brad Miller is one of four very vulnerable Democrats under North Carolina’s new Congressional map.

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North Carolinaís new House map, passed into law two weeks ago, seeks to unravel several decades of Democratic-led gerrymandering. Even Democrats privately admit the state GOP appears to have done a masterful job.

Four Democrats ó Reps. Mike McIntyre, Larry Kissell, Heath Shuler and Brad Miller ó are exceedingly vulnerable under the new map, mandated by the decennial redistricting process.

Worse for Democrats, McIntyre was drawn into Kissellís district and Miller was drawn into Rep. David Priceís (D) district.

Even with President Barack Obama holding the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and even if, 15 months from now, he rides to a comfortable re-election victory, itís unclear that his coattails can buoy the four Blue Dog Democrats whose districts are now in substantially Republican turf.

That said, the new map is likely to face court challenges and, under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, must be approved by either the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia or the Department of Justice before it can be enforced.

1st district
Incumbent: G.K. Butterfield (D)
4th term (59 percent)
Rating: Safe Democrat

Early draft redistricting maps moved some minority-heavy counties, protected under the Voting Rights Act, out of the 1st district. Butterfield protested, and they were restored to his district. Heíll likely win re-election without any trouble.

2nd district
Incumbent: Renee Ellmers (R)
1st term (49 percent)
Rating: Likely Republican     

Democrats in the state tell Roll Call that former Rep. Bob Etheridge (D) is considering a rematch with Ellmers, who unseated him in 2010. But the new district is substantially more Republican than it was when Etheridge lost, and Ellmers should be able to relatively easily dispatch her former opponent or any Democrat that comes her way.

3rd district
Incumbent: Walter Jones Jr. (R)
9th term (72 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

Jonesí coastal district stretches from the Virginia border all the way down into a bit of New Hanover County in the southern part of the state. The 3rd district is slightly less Republican than it was previously but remains safe GOP territory.

4th district
Incumbent: David Price (D)
8th term (57 percent)
Rating: Safe Democrat

A Democrat will almost certainly win this incredibly partisan district that snakes from south to north across seven counties in the center of the state. But who? Rep. Brad Miller (D) indicated to Roll Call that he might run here.

With Price insisting heíll run again, there is the potential of a Member-vs.-Member primary. Both Price and Miller represent portions of the new 4th district in their current districts, but in a showdown, Price would appear to have the early edge with the advantage of his seniority.

5th District
Incumbent: Virginia Foxx (R)
4th term (66 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

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