RALEIGH – The Joint Select Committee on Congressional Redistricting had it’s first meeting Tuesday to begin the process of redrawing election maps to the court’s satisfaction. As expeditiously as the lawmakers want to move, they encountered their first stumbling blocks in confusion over whether the court even gave them an order sufficient to draw new maps and in divisions over which templates, or ‘base maps,’ to use as a starting point.
On the latter point, Republicans suggested using base maps that had already been vetted by court review. This would jump start the process, reasonably assure court approval, and expedite the process so as to avoid delayed primaries. A few Democrats pointed out, however, that those maps used political/racial data the use of which is now prohibited by the court. They would like to essentially start from scratch.
This demonstrates the problem with the judiciary overreaching in dictating terms for redistricting to the legislature and the perversion litigious Democrats have created. The Democrats’ point is a good one, albeit self-serving. The courts have, at the Democrats’ behest, eliminated so much data in response to gerrymandering complaints that legislature literally doesn’t even know how to start lest they use tainted map data the courts deem toxic.
Moreover, because the court issued an injunction, and not a direct order to draw new maps, lawmakers legitimately wondered during opening debate if the court action was sufficient to trigger new maps now and what would happen if they did nothing. Some statutes apparently require a direct order to redraw maps, and the court’s recent decree was different. The directive was to essentially draw new maps now because they’re likely to side with the plaintiffs (Democrats) in the case later. As if you needed another reason to suspect certain judges actively promoted the Left’s cause.
They’ll vote on which base maps to use on Thursday. In the mean time, the lawmakers will work with General Assembly staff to tweak their own different versions of maps drafts to submit. You can actually listen to them chatting and tweaking, and tweaking again, (gerrymandering?) on the audio feed of the committee room. Aside from the corny small talk jokes, at least it is transparent.
On the feed Wednesday, a series of lawmakers consulted with a staff member to manipulate district lines to their liking while staying in basic population parameters. Nearly every drafting pass we overheard was focused on hitting magic numbers around 750,000 people. Naturally, these incumbents are looking out for their fellow congressional colleagues of the same party, and thus the drafting discussions fall in certain districts depending upon which party the drafting lawmaker is in. They are all working to come up with alternatives to the allegedly tainted base map, and they’ll vote on Thursday on which base map to use.
At the end of the day it will be a question of how much Democrats are manage to squeeze out of a Republican leadership with little interest in protracted fights and delayed primaries, and how much that may change the outlook for 2020.
The base maps Republicans suggested Tuesday can be seen below.