Editor’s note: If this plan is approved, Ocracoke’s current state senator, Bill Cook, would not be on the ballot for Ocracoke.
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Reprinted courtesy of the Outer Banks Voice
By Sam Walker on August 14, 2017
The first draft of potential new district maps for the N.C. General Assembly would make significant changes to representation for northeastern North Carolina, opening the door for at least a new state senator to be elected in 2018.
Lawmakers have until the end of the month to present new districts to a federal court for approval to use starting next year, after the judges ruled that 19 House and three Senate districts were race-based gerrymanders.
They plan to vote on the proposed changes Aug. 24, which would bring an end to the splitting of northeastern N.C. counties into separate districts.
Rep. Beverly Boswell of Kill Devil Hills is the current House member for Dare, Hyde, Washington and part of Beaufort counties, which comprise the current Sixth District.
Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, is the sitting First District member and currently represents Currituck.
In the House, Pasquotank would be in the same district as Gates and Hertford counties, while the other district would stretch from Bertie to Perquimans and also include Washington, Tyrrell and Camden.
On the Senate side, part of Beaufort would move out, and all of Hertford and Gates would would be added to the current First District, creating the largest in the state for total number of counties.
“If the maps as presently drawn are accepted, I am 95 percent sure I will seek the Republican nomination for state Senate in the new district,” Steinburg said Monday.
When the maps were first released last week, Steinburg told The Outer Banks Voice he was considering going after the Senate seat but wanted to consult with party officials throughout the district before making it official.
“I have no desire to run in an 11-county Senate district,” Boswell said. “I see the new House district, if approved, as a win/win for everyone because Dare, Hyde, Currituck and Pamlico have so many things in common.”
There have not been any Democrats in either district to publicly state their intentions of running for either the House or Senate seats.
Former state Sen. Stan White of Nags Head and Tess Judge of Kill Devil Hills have both been mentioned as possible contenders.
White lost to Cook in 2012 after being appointed to fill out the term of former Senate leader Marc Basnight of Manteo the previous year.
Judge stood in for her husband, former Dare County commissioner Warren Judge, in 2016 against Boswell after he died less than a week before Election Day.
WRAL-TV reported that the House and Senate committees overseeing the redistricting process can use election data to achieve political goals, but are forbidden from considering voters’ race.
That came after the panels met Thursday in Raleigh, where they also set rules that allow incumbents to be protected in the new maps, allowing map makers to make “reasonable efforts” to avoid drawing sitting legislators into the same district.
The decision disappointed reformers who had hoped to see a less partisan process emerge as the General Assembly complies with a federal court order to replace unconstitutional maps, according to WRAL.
With criteria set, GOP leaders turn now to Tom Hofeller, a map-making expert the Republican leadership tapped in 2011 to draw the very maps he’s now been hired to replace in North Carolina.
Another draft set of maps is expected to be released by the end of next week, WRAL reported.