GOP redistricting likely to push out Dems in NC

July 2, 2011 4:58:48 AM PDT
For decades, the Democrat controlled North Carolina General Assembly drew congressional districts that often favored its own party.

But with a new GOP majority in charge, the boot is suddenly on the other foot.

Congressional voting districts are adjusted every 10 years when new Census figures come out. The General Assembly has the task of tweaking the boundaries again to account for the additional 1.5 million people now in the state compared to 2000. The maps must be redrawn so a near-equal number are in each district, or 733,499.

The draft was released Friday by GOP redistricting leaders at the Legislature.

(Click here to see the new proposed congressional maps)

(Click here to see the existing congressional maps)

The maps would increase the percentage of Republican voters in the districts of Reps. Heath Shuler in the mountains and Larry Kissell and Brad Miller in the Piedmont. Democrats currently have a 7-6 advantage in the state's delegation.

The district of first-term GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers would include more of Wake County and lose Democratic areas to boost her re-election chances.

The Republicans want to approve congressional and legislative districts by the end of July.

In a prepared statement, the Legislature's redistricting leaders said they hoped the "majority of North Carolinians will agree that our proposed plan will establish Congressional districts that are fair to North Carolina voters."

"While we have not been ignorant of the partisan impacts of the districts we have created, we have focused on ensuring that the districts will be more competitive than the districts created by the 2001 Legislature," said the statement from Reps. David Lewis, R-Harnett, and Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg.

Shuler's mountain district would lose Democratic strongholds in and around Asheville and replace them with Burke and Caldwell counties, which are more favorable for Republicans.

The 8th District would take in more GOP-leaning Rowan and Davidson counties and leave out more than 70,000 Charlotte-area residents that gave Kissell's district a more Democratic slant, according to map data.

Surry and Stokes are added to the 13th District while Wake County's population is cut by more than half. Miller is from Wake County and help draw up the last congressional boundaries in 2001 while in the state Senate. He was elected to Congress the next year.

Wake County, home to Raleigh, would have four U.S. House members representing them if the boundaries were to take effect.

Mecklenburg and Guilford counties would have three members each.

Associated Press reporter Gary D. Robertson contributed to this story.

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