An NC Republican reported his party’s plans to gerrymander. Then he walked it back.


Dallas Woodhouse, govt director of the NC Republican Party, listens to testimony throughout the third day of a public evidentiary listening to on the ninth Congressional District voting irregularities investigation Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, on the North Carolina State Bar in Raleigh.

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The former North Carolina GOP govt director reported this week that his social gathering would gerrymander the state’s new congressional districts to create a 10-4 Republican benefit for the U.S. House of Representatives later this yr.

That report, printed by Dallas Woodhouse on the conservative information website Carolina Journal, got here simply hours after new Census knowledge was launched Monday. That knowledge confirmed North Carolina will gain a House seat, bringing its complete to 14.

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“Carolina Journal has learned that GOP redistricting leaders will consider approving a new map designed to elect a 10 Republicans and four Democrats beginning in 2022,” an early model of the article said.

The article was later edited, softening Woodhouse’s prediction of a 10-4 cut up. But the report unfold rapidly amongst North Carolina politicos, sparking early debate over how lawmakers will redraw the districts.

Woodhouse’s reporting foreshadows the approaching struggle over the future of North Carolina’s political landscape. Even because the state’s inhabitants shifts, Republicans have a possibility to draw maps to their benefit.

With Congress narrowly divided, North Carolina lawmakers can influence the balance of power in Washington.

If Woodhouse’s predictions are appropriate, this wouldn’t be the primary time North Carolina lawmakers — of both social gathering — have gerrymandered districts for political acquire. Lawmakers have drawn quite a few maps over the previous couple of a long time that had been ultimately deemed unconstitutional gerrymanders.

House seat drawn for Speaker Moore?

Woodhouse’s article additionally advised the brand new district could be drawn specifically for House Speaker Tim Moore — a Republican from Cleveland County, west of Charlotte, who may have private affect over the map-making course of.

Moore and Republican Sen. Phil Berger, the highest legislative leaders, dismissed Woodhouse’s report in interviews with The News & Observer.

“Nothing has been decided,” Moore mentioned. “There’s been zero work done on any districts.”

Moore additionally mentioned he will not be planning to run for Congress, however plans to run for state House once more.

But Woodhouse, now employed by Carolina Journal, has been proper about a number of different political rumors he’s reported on for the publication this yr.

Woodhouse accurately known as that Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Cheri Beasley would leap into the state’s 2022 Senate race earlier than they made their official bulletins, and he was the primary to report that Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson was considering the GOP Senate primary, too — rumors Robinson later confirmed, earlier than in the end deciding not to run.

“Let me say for the record, I have no inside knowledge,” Woodhouse mentioned Wednesday morning when The News & Observer requested what he knew in regards to the 10-4 maps and plans to draw the brand new seat to assist Moore run for Congress. “I have no people talking to me. It’s water cooler talk at the General Assembly.”

Courts struck down previous maps

Democrats managed the legislature for over a century and drew maps for Congress and the state legislature within the Nineteen Eighties, Nineties and 2000s that had been ultimately overturned as unconstitutional. Republicans then took over in 2011 and did the identical; they continue to be in management for the brand new, 2021 model of the maps.

Courts overturned a number of variations of the maps for the final decade as unconstitutional gerrymanders — together with a minimum of one lawsuit through which the challengers pointed to the truth that a Republican lawmaker acknowledged a predetermined final result of guaranteeing his social gathering 10 of the 13 seats.

Courts shot down the authentic map drawn after the 2010 Census, with its 10-3 cut up. Lawmakers then re-hired the identical political guide, who drew a distinct 10-3 map. That was additionally dominated unconstitutional. Lawmakers then drew a map with an 8-5 Republican benefit, used solely within the 2020 elections, after judges demanded a extra clear course of.

If the brand new maps are drawn 10-4 as Woodhouse predicted, the GOP’s present three-seat benefit would double to a six-seat benefit in subsequent yr’s elections.

Moore mentioned Tuesday he had no thought what Woodhouse was speaking about, as did Berger.

Woodhouse mentioned Wednesday that “I have not talked to Speaker Moore” about it and that he was simply reporting rumors he had heard. Rumors have surfaced earlier than about Moore looking for different jobs, like the UNC System president, as reported by the liberal information web site N.C. Policy Watch. But he has remained the House speaker.

Berger laughed when requested in regards to the reporting on the ground of the state Senate Tuesday night.

“I have no idea where it came from,” he mentioned. “Somebody called me about it earlier today and it was the first I’d heard of it.”

He mentioned he didn’t have a objective of drawing a 10-4 cut up, or some other predetermined final result.

“We have taken no steps to draw maps, to take into consideration what maps ought to look like, or anything,” Berger mentioned. “We will wait until we actually receive the Census data that we can utilize before we start that process.”

Under the Dome

With the beginning of the brand new yr and a brand new legislative session, The News & Observer has launched a brand new Under the Dome podcast. We’re unpacking laws and points that matter to hold you up to date on what’s occurring in North Carolina politics twice per week on Monday and Friday mornings. Check us out here and sign up for our weekly Under the Dome publication for extra political information.

For extra North Carolina authorities and politics information, pay attention to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can discover it on Pandora, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Megaphone or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Lucille Sherman is a state politics reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. She is an award-winning reporter who beforehand labored as a nationwide knowledge and investigations reporter for Gannett. Using the safe, encrypted Signal app, you may attain Lucille at 405-471-7979.

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