North Carolina is “ground zero” for a new national Democratic Party push to win state legislative seats around the country between now and the 2020 census, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday.
These Democrats hope to counter gains Republicans secured in 2010, when a wave election swept the GOP into power not just in Congress, but in the legislatures that draw the congressional and legislative maps every 10 years.
Draw the maps, decide how voters are divvied up using computer software that knows how people tend to vote, and you can draw districts that lean so heavily left or right that the other side has little hope in a general election.
“This is the most gerrymandered state in the country,” Holder said Saturday, after headlining the North Carolina Democratic Party’s annual fundraising dinner.
Former President Barack Obama tapped Holder last year to head the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which will pump millions of dollars into statehouse elections between now and the 2021 redraws. The strategy borrows from the GOP’s Project REDMAP, which helped Republicans capture statehouse majorities in 2010.
That the efforts mirror each other didn’t stop the state GOP from jumping on the Democratic Party’s effort as a liberal hack job this week. The party sent out a blast ahead of Holder’s visit calling him “the leader of a new ultra liberal group looking to politically influence gerrymandering across the United States.”
If successful, Holder said, Democrats will not abuse their power like Republicans did. The U.S. Supreme Court has since struck down GOP maps in a number of states, including North Carolina, which is under a court order to redraw statehouse maps ahead of the 2018 legislative elections.
Cooper said he could speak for North Carolina Democrats to promise that, if they take majorities in the state House and Senate, they’ll move to a nonpartisan redistricting process that cedes the drawing process, now handled by legislators and the consultants they bring in, to an independent commission.
“You can put it in the bank,” Cooper said.