Rowan will see many changes with redistricting
Staff and wire reports
SALISBURY — The Congressional redistricting maps given final approval in the N.C. General Assembly late Wednesday include a change in representation for many Rowan County residents.
Under the approved plan, the 6th District now represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Howard Coble no longer contains part of Rowan County, while the 5th District now represented by U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, also a Republican, is expanded to take in northwestern Rowan.
The 8th District now represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, is expanded to take in southern and eastern Rowan, putting more GOP voters in a district that Kissell wrested away from Republican Robin Hayes in 2008.
But the biggest bone of contention in the newly approved map — and the one that could see it end up in the courts — is the redrawing of the 12th District now represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Mel Watt. The district, which stretches from Greensboro to Charlotte, still runs through Rowan but it has been reconfigured with a larger majority of black voters.
Critics say the GOP-led General Assembly has “packed” black voters into a few districts and diluted their influence in adjoining ones. They say that violates the Racial Justice Act.
The 12th District, which Watt has represented since its creation in 1992 was the focus of years of litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court approved the current boundaries.
All three maps are now law, but next they’ll be presented to a federal court and U.S. attorneys to decide whether they meet anti-discrimination laws before they can be used in the 2012 elections.
Democrats predict the General Assembly will have to return to try to redraw boundaries they now say segregate black voters into certain districts to help Republicans win surrounding seats, and by creating ugly-looking and illegal districts.
Districts are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population growth reported by the U.S. Census — a 1.5 million increase in North Carolina since 2000. With Republicans holding a majority in both chambers for the first time since 1870, GOP lawmakers want boundaries that will extend their control of the General Assembly and boost their representation on Capitol Hill.