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Steinburg says he would likely run in new Senate district

Editor’s note: If this plan is approved,  Ocracoke’s current state senator, Bill Cook, would  not be on the ballot for Ocracoke.

Update: The most recent maps were released over the past weekend.  To view the House map released Saturday  (Aug. 20), click here.  To view the Senate map released Sunday (Aug. 21), click here

For Ocracoke news, click here

Reprinted courtesy of the Outer Banks Voice

By Sam Walker on August 14, 2017

State Rep. Beverly Boswell

State Rep. Bob Steinburg

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.

 Currituck would shift to a House district that includes Dare, Hyde and Pamlico counties.

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.

State Sen. Bill Cook has not said if he will run for office again.

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.

Under the proposal, current First District Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, would not be eligible for that seat. He has not stated his intentions for 2018, but there are strong indications that this will be his last term in Raleigh.

“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.

There had been rumors that Boswell would make a run for Senate as well, but said Monday her plans are to seek another term in the House in a district that would run from the Virginia border to the Neuse River.

The new map would create a bigger district and move Beaufort, state Sen. Bill Cook’s home county, into a different one.

“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.

The new House map would also shuffle some counties around.

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.

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