Other than a common border of some 230+ miles, Virginia and the Tar Heel State are as different as their names. While the Commonwealth was able recently to rely upon its Supreme Court to draw political boundary maps after an independent commission failed at the task, North Carolina is embroiled in gerrymander conflict concerning its political maps. To be sure, there were early critics of Virginia’s statutory plan concerned about the Republican tilt of its Court’s membership.
A version prepared by North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature packed and cracked its 14 congressional districts to favor the GOP in 11 of them. Voter registration data in North Carolina gives Democrats a 36% to 30% (about 400,000) margin over the GOP. In 2020, Roy Cooper was re-elected governor by a 52% to 47% margin. The 78% favorable tilt in congressional districts appears, at least facially, to be biased.
Legal challenges have been launched requiring the state’s Supreme Court to intervene in a proposition that has only further roiled the landscape. In 2019, Cooper appointed a Black woman to be chief justice. Tar Heels elect judges and, in 2020, Cooper’s appointment lost the race by some 400 votes of 5.4 million cast. The campaign was one of the most expensive in the nation, costing some $6.2 million, more than $1.14 per vote.
Now challenges to the qualifications of the justices have been raised alleging political ties that require some to recuse themselves. The Court has a one-justice Democratic majority. The stakes are high, the margins of political authority narrow – but only the voters are likely to be prejudiced. Primaries have been moved to May from March. Just in time as the state’s high court ruled the maps to be unconstitutional and required new maps by the end of February.
The Empire State is decidedly not an empire, according to a Republican-led group that has filed a lawsuit against a newly-drawn congressional map by the Democratic-dominated state legislature. The critics contend that the gerrymander will deliver three additional Democratic seats to the state’s congressional caucus.
Gerrymander fever among Dems follows a tidal wave of punditry predicting a GOP majority victory in the House and Senate in this year’s midterms. New Mexico and Oregon also adopted maps that offer two seats to the Dems, while Illinois has contributed to the panic of potential loss of majority in Congress with a map eliminating two Republican-leaning districts. Nationally, Democrats are responding to the retirement of some 29 House members, a serious threat to the present 12-vote margin under Speaker Nancy Pelosi. November 8, 2022, is a short 9 months down the campaign pathway.
Significant political dynamics will play during this period, including but not limited to the work of the January 6 committee and its public hearings; status of the COVID pandemic; several gubernatorial races such as that in Texas; the Senate and gubernatorial races in Georgia; and the inflation trajectory. Last but not least, there is the always-entertaining riff from Mar-a-Lago.
The Yellowhammer State does not ordinarily pass the lips even of natives of Alabama referring to its nickname. The appellation may not be the sole cognitive gap among its populace.
The head of the state’s education agency testified before the House Education Committee about complaints he had received from parents about curricula in the schools. Apparently, the agency and school districts made announcements about the celebration of Black History Month in February, prompting numerous complaints about CRT being taught.
According to media reports, the agency head testified, “There are people out there who don’t understand what Critical Race Theory is. And so, in their misunderstanding of it, they make a report but it’s not actually CRT.”
CRT? Black History Month? What’s the diff? Alabama’s US Sen. Tommy Tuberville knows the difference between “yea” and “nay”, having voted to reject the electoral results of Pennsylvania and Arizona on January 6. Yessir, that “old time religion is good enough for me.”