North Carolina is unique among the states in that under the state Constitution the governor cannot veto a redistricting plan passed by the legislature. This means that Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue cannot veto this congressional redistricting plan produced by the Republican-controlled Senate and House redistricting committees and likely to be passed by both houses.
Currently the North Carolina House delegation is made up of 6 Republicans and 7 Democrats. The redistricting plan creates 3 overwhelmingly Democratic districts (the 1st, 4th and 12th) and 10 districts in which Republican Senator Richard Burr received at least 59% of the vote in November 2010 and in which John McCain received at least 55% of the vote in November 2008. This puts in jeopardy the seats of the 7th district’s Mike McIntyre, the 8th district’s Larry Kissell, the 11th district’s Heath Shuler (who reportedly is weighing an offer to become athletic director at the University of Tennessee, where he was a football star) and the 13th district’s Brad Miller (who was on the redistricting committee 10 years ago). Republicans have the potential, but not the assurance, of gaining 4 seats.
In the 7th district—previous version 52% McCain, new version 55% McCain—Democrat Mike McIntyre beat Republican challenger Ilario Pantano 54%-46% in 2010. The redistricting removes most of Robeson County (with its large population of blacks and Lumbee Indians) and the Democratic area around Fayetteville and adds Onslow County, home of the Marine Corps’s Camp Lejeune. This could help Marine veteran Pantano.
The 8th district goes from 52% Obama to 55% McCain; Democrat Larry Kissell won 53%-43% last time after a controversial Republican primary. The district no longer contains black precincts in Charlotte.
The 11th district loses the increasingly liberal city of Asheville and adds four heavily Republican counties. In the process a 52% McCain district becomes a 58% McCain district, with the second highest McCain percentage of any of North Carolina’s 13 districts. It’s rumored that incumbent Heath Shuler is weighing an offer to become athletic director at the University of Tennessee, where he was a star quarterback. That looks like it would give Shuler more power and tenure; in the House he’s on the outs with the Democratic leadership because of his open opposition to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The 13th district has seen the sharpest transformation, from a 59%-40% Obama district to a 56%-43% McCain district. The Supreme Court recently ruled that states are not required to create near-minority-majority districts (i.e., those with large numbers but not a majority of blacks or Hispanics) to comply with the Voting Rights Act. This was one such district; the Republican redistricters clearly placed many of the old 13th’s blacks in the heavily Democratic 4th district.