North Carolina’s congressional elections will go forward under the new maps that the GOP-controlled legislature drew last month, a panel of state judges ruled Monday.
Democrats are likely to pick up two seats under the new configuration, which they’d been challenging in court for not adequately remedying the 2016 maps, which the court had already found to be an unlawful partisan gerrymander.
The court said on Monday there isn’t time to address Democrats’ challenges to the new map if the election is to happen on time. Congressional primaries are scheduled for March 3. The court had initially halted candidate filing for congressional seats, but allowed it to go forward on Monday.
Republicans currently hold 10 of the state’s 13 seats in the U.S. House, but the new map could lead to some GOP incumbents deciding to call it quits. The new lines enacted by the General Assembly in November could put GOP Reps. Mark Walker and George Holding in a precarious position for reelection.
Walker did not give many clues Monday as to what he intends to do.
“While politicians in North Carolina rush to plant the flag of their own ambitions – disregarding the people they are privileged to serve and trading constituencies like baseball cards – I will continue to pray and seek clarity on God’s path forward,” the three-term congressman said in a statement.
“Filing will remain open until December 20th and I feel no pressure to rush a decision,” added Walker, whose current district is split into four districts under the new map.
The map has also sparked new interest from Democrats. Kathy Manning, who lost a 2018 bid to GOP Rep. Ted Budd in the 13th District, announced Monday she’ll run in the newly drawn 6th District. The 2016 Democratic Senate nominee Deborah Ross filed with the Federal Election Commission as a candidate in the 2nd District.
Still, North Carolina Democrats would have liked to have seen the court take action against the GOP-enacted maps.
“North Carolina Republicans yet again run out the clock on fair maps, denying justice to North Carolina voters and forcing our state to go another election using undemocratic district lines,” North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a statement Monday afternoon.