Leading GOP Senator Pans Democratic Colleague’s Gerrymandering Claim | Beaufort County Now | A leader of the N.C. Senate’s redistricting efforts is taking aim at a colleague’s claim about gerrymandering in congressional elections.

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Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell. | Photo: Maya Reagan / Carolina Journal

    A leader of the N.C. Senate's redistricting efforts is taking aim at a colleague's claim about gerrymandering in congressional elections.

    A news release from the office of Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, criticizes a tweet today from Sen. Ben Clark, D-Hoke. Clark described North Carolina's current congressional map as a "stealth 8-5 gerrymander."

    The 8-5 refers to the fact that voters elected eight Republicans and five Democrats in 2020 to represent North Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    "North Carolina Democrats are already making false redistricting allegations as they gear up to file suit against maps that can't even be drawn yet," according to the release from Hise, co-chairman of the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee.

    "It's yet more evidence that Democratic legislators will say any map that doesn't help them win is a 'gerrymander,' even though their own redistricting experts say the opposite," the release continued.

    Hise rebuts Clark's "false accusation" by focusing on a witness who has testified on Democrats' behalf in redistricting litigation.

    During a July 20 online presentation, Duke University math professor Jonathan Mattingly dissected the state's redistricting process. Mattingly estimated the number of Democrats who would be elected to Congress from North Carolina under nonpartisan maps. "Somewhere between five and six Democrats is pretty typical."

    Even if Democratic candidates win more than 50% of the statewide congressional vote, they shouldn't expect to win a majority within the state's congressional delegation, Mattingly said on July 20. "You don't expect to see over 50% of the seats go to the Democrats," he said. "That's just a fact of the structure of our election system. If you don't like it, you should have a different conversation, but that's not gerrymandering."

    Hise responded to the Duke math expert's comments. "Professor Mattingly is referring to the fact that Democratic voters are concentrated in dense urban areas while Republican voters are more spread out," according to the news release. "The result is Democrats run up their vote totals in a few urban districts, while Republicans win elections by smaller margins in more districts."

    Clark's tweet prompts Hise to point out another piece of recent N.C. political history. "This isn't the first time Sen. Clark has been caught up in redistricting controversy," according to Hise's release.

    "In 2019, the Washington Post reported that Clark was trying to gerrymander his way into his own congressional seat," Hise's release said.

    The Post reported that Democrats wanted a congressional map in which their party would be able to win "in at least six" of the state's 13 congressional districts. "[L]egislative Democrats have also told Republicans that they will only support a new map if one of the new Democratic-leaning districts is anchored in Fayetteville, allowing state Sen. Ben Clark to run for the seat," the newspaper reported.

    Clark sits on the state Senate's Redistricting and Elections Committee. He signaled during the group's first meeting Thursday that he plans to submit a list of redistricting criteria when the committee starts its substantive work next week.
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