Courtesy or Clout?

Published 7:33 am Thursday, December 18, 2014

Visiting Salisbury on Tuesday, newly elected U.S. Rep. Alma Adams said the portion of Rowan County in her district was “one of the smaller parts,” but she wanted every area of the 12th District to understand they are a “significant part.”

That’s a nice sentiment. No doubt Reps. Virginia Foxx and Richard Hudson would say the same thing about Rowan’s importance in their districts, the 5th and 8th. But when you look at the percentages, you have to wonder how much sway Rowan County opinions and needs really have with our congressional delegation.

Split three ways, Rowan makes up 8.72 percent of Hudson’s 8th District, 5.8 percent of Adams’ 12th District and a whopping 4.33 percent of Foxx’s 5th District, according to state redistricting data. When our representatives in Congress are deciding how to spend their time and political capital, how much will they expend on helping Rowan get federal funds for, say, an airport project or a game-changing water system expansion?

The people who draw the lines would argue we have a disproportionately large voice, with three U.S. representatives. Others might say we’re better off keeping a low political profile, considering Congress’ recent track record. Whatever the real measure of Rowan’s clout may be, courtesy calls from Adams, Foxx and Hudson are always appreciated. But the appearances do feel like just that — a courtesy.