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Updated: 5:24 p.m.
On the road to House Democrats’ goal of winning back the majority, North Carolina is now their biggest and most jarring speed bump.
A draft map of new Congressional districts released Friday by the GOP-controlled state Legislature politically endangers four Democrats in the state: Reps. Brad Miller, Larry Kissell, Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler. While it leaves each Member in his own district, they are not districts that will be easy to win.
The Republican-drawn map also substantially shores up the district of Rep. Renee Ellmers, a Republican freshman who won an upset victory in 2010.
The current Congressional delegation is split with six Republicans and seven Democrats. Republicans hope the new map would give them a split of nine Republican districts, three Democratic districts and one toss-up district in a wave year such as 2008, and 10 Republican districts in a wave year such as 2010.
The three safe Democratic districts are the two majority-minority districts held by Reps. G.K. Butterfield and Mel Watt and Rep. David Price’s Raleigh-Durham-based district. Under the draft map, all three districts grow substantially more Democratic. But all Republican incumbents, including Ellmers — along with Miller, Kissell, McIntyre and Shuler — would be in districts that would have voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 by at least 55 percent.
One of the two most vulnerable Members under the draft lines is Miller, a former North Carolina state Senator who chaired the redistricting committee a decade ago and helped draw the district he now occupies. But 10 years later, he has few friends left in the state Legislature, Democrats and Republicans in the state said.
He won re-election in 2010 with 56 percent of the vote, but McCain got just 40 percent in the current district in 2008. Under the draft map, McCain would have carried Miller’s district with 56 percent. Miller’s middling fundraising haul in the first quarter of this year, only $32,000, has left some thinking the Congressman is headed for retirement, though his spokeswoman said recently he is indeed running for re-election.
One likely GOP candidate to run against Miller is Nathan Tabor, a tea party-aligned businessman and chairman of Forsyth County Republican Party. In 2004, when he was 29, Tabor came in fourth place in the GOP primary in the 5th district, which was then an open seat.
Another exceedingly vulnerable Democrat is Shuler, who won his third term in 2010 with 54 percent of the vote. A recent report, which was not denied by his spokesman, said he is in talks with the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to become athletic director. His spokesman did say, however, that Shuler would be running for re-election.