The celebrated artist Vincent Van Gogh and the North Carolina redistricting map makers have one thing in common -- almost no one likes their work. Van Gogh later became famous and revered, but this happy turnaround cannot be predicted for the bizarre squiggles of the guys who drew the maps that will affect North Carolina politics and politicians for the decade to come.
Andy Yates, political strategist for GOP congressional candidate Ilario Pantano, sounded off on the work of the committee in a recent interview. Here is part of what he said:
The Seventh District historically been somewhat of a coastal district -- at least the Pender, New Hanover, Brunswick coast -- and that's still true, although you know how Pender County's split, and you have downtown Wilmington cut out of the district.
But the focus has always been on the coastal region, and that's been the emphasis of the district for sometime now. I think even Congressman McIntyre would tell you that, and you could judge that by the amount of time he spends in the area. The counties down here -- Columbus and Bladen -- are tied very closely, and a lot of people come to the Wilmington area for recreation and to shop, and many come down here even for work.
I think a lot of those people were happy to have an even more coastal district. Now they end up with a district that stretches from Wilmington to Raleigh, and you've got people who live two hours away, and the only thing they know about coastal North Carolina is that it's a place to come to vacation a couple of weeks a year.
When you draw these unusual districts, and you don't put counties together that have typically been areas that fit together, it's hard for someone to represent all the divergent interests. You've got coastal communities in this district, you've got very rural agricultural communities, and then you've got the Raleigh suburbs. I just don't see what all those areas have in common.
You look at downtown Wilmington, and you've got a district that stretches to the North Carolina-Virginia border in Currituck County. I asked a reporter how long he thought it woul take to get from downtown Wilmington to the Virginia border, and he said it would take most of the day.
As Ilario said, the areas that were cut out were Democratic precincts, and if they were added back in it might be a little tougher for him to win, but it would be the right thing for the City of Wilmington, and for the Brunswick/Pender/New Hanover region for these areas to be together. I can't think of one think that downtown Wilmington has in common with northern Currituck County aside from the fact that they're in the same State.
But would it be too little too late? That may be the case. But here's the news on that development:
Democrats offer N.C. redistricting alternative maps
RALEIGH, N.C. Democrats in the North Carolina Legislature are offering alternative maps that redraw election district boundaries for themselves and the state's congressional representatives to counter Republican plans still likely to be approved this week.
Senate Democrats and the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus introduced three bills today (July 25) prior to General Assembly floor sessions later in the day in which Republican-written maps will be debated and voted upon. House Democrats also will offer alternatives.
Democrats say GOP boundaries are illegal because they put too many black voters in certain districts to reduce their overall influence, cross too many county lines and split too many voting precincts.
A Democratic plan would have only one Senate district with a black voting-age population above 50 percent. The Republican plan has nine such districts.