A statement issued July 1 by state Senator Bob Rucho and Representative David Lewis reads, “From the beginning, our goal has remained the same: the development of fair and legal congressional and legislative districts”. However, after the release of the newly proposed voting district map, according to critics, the Republicans have made good on previous statements by party members to diminish the impact of the minority voters in the state. The joint statement by Rucho and Lewis also says, “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.”
Back in May, Rep. Patrick McHenry the GOP’s point man in Congress who represents the 10th District, said, “It’s politically probable that there will be a new minority influence district. It’s logical based on the demographics of our state”. Those demographics come from the last federal Census held in 2010. Low-voter turn among Democrats and Obama supporters in the state’s 2010 elections is blamed for the Tea Party influenced Republicans taking control of the North Carolina General Assembly and thus getting the opportunity to redraw and propose new voting districts.
Democrat Larry Kissell, who currently represents the 8th District, was one of the Democrats singled out as a target by Republican Patrick McHenry. Under the Republicans newly proposed map, Kissell would lose up to 37,000 African-American voters who would be segregated with other black voters in the 12th District. The 12th District is represented by African-American and Democrat Mel Watt. In his own statement about the proposed maps, Kissell said, “It is unfortunate that the legislature has gerrymandered the Congressional maps”. In defense of the proposed new voting districts map, state GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said, “The way (districts) were drawn in 2000 seemed awfully gerrymandered.”
The last time the districts were drawn, they were approved by the U.S. Justice Department, which was led in 2001 by Attorney General John Ashcroft, appointed by George W. Bush. The newly proposed maps still have to meet the approval of the Justice Department that is led by US Attorney General Eric Holder, appointed in 2008 by President Obama.