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Hullabaloo


Friday, February 19, 2016

 

NC GOP: The weird turn pro

by Tom Sullivan

This is your state on power-drunk Republicans.

What a cluster (of districts) North Carolina GOP has already made of the 2016 elections. Under a federal court order that ruled two existing congressional districts unconstitutional, state Senate Republicans yesterday approved new, more compact congressional districts (above; the old map is here). The NC House proposed moving the congressional primary from March 15 to June 7. And reports indicate a state Court of Appeals panel is poised to strike down as unconstitutional a law passed by Republicans to change the way the state elects supreme court justices. Not exactly a gold-star week for Republican governance in the Tar Heel State.

The U.S. Supreme Court might stay the lower court ruling that required redrawing the districts. It would appear that primaries for all thirteen seats in Congress will be postponed until June.

But in a major change, the House proposal also said no runoff elections would be held in March or June. Currently, if no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote, a second primary is held. But if this change is enacted, the final winner would be the top vote-getter in the initial vote this year, no matter how many candidates compete.

That could have implications for several key races, including the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and the Republican primary in the 2nd Congressional District – where a large field reduces the chance that any candidate could get 40 percent of the vote.

In another twist, candidates who won a March 15 primary then could file to run for a congressional seat June 7. If they won in both primaries, they would have to withdraw from one, within a week after the June 7 results were certified.

If passed, there will be no second chances for candidates either on March 15 or June 7. A plurality takes the nomination for the November ballot for all races in North Carolina this year. As for filing for Congress reopening after March 15, only someone with name recognition and a billionaire in her/his pocket or able to self-finance a $1 million, five-month race for Congress will attempt to file in March for a June primary.

To add to the uncertainty, redrawing the districts will affect incumbents:

Democratic lawmakers say Republicans looked at the congressional primary crisis and saw a political opportunity.

They point to changes to the 12th District, which under the new map would only encompass Mecklenburg County.

U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, the Greensboro Democrat who represents the 12th, would find herself in a new 13th District. That new district would stretch west from Guilford County into neighboring Davidson County as well as Iredell and Davie counties — both Republican strongholds.

Members of Congress aren’t required to live in their district, but lawmakers said it’s difficult to mount a strong campaign from outside — particularly if your traditional constituency is cut in half or diluted in a newly constructed district.

"So, good luck with that, Alma. Your friends in the NCGOP."

And finally, as I wrote last year:

On Election Day 2014 while Democrats across the country were getting clobbered, there were a couple of bright spots in North Carolina (believe it or not). Democrats picked up a net 3 seats in the state legislature, including sending home an ALEC board member. But in a sweep election where Republicans should have won it all, Democrats won 3 of 3 contested state Supreme Court seats and 2 of 3 contested Appeals Court races. Republicans couldn't have that. The GOP-controlled legislature responded in 2015 by changing the way judges are elected.

Now that last part has come back to bite them. A three-judge Superior Court panel that earlier this week heard a challenge to the "retention elections" law is poised to rule it unconstitutional.

Just another day in wingnut paradise.