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Editorial: Redistricting could pair Rowan, Stanly counties in NC Senate

It’s unlikely that Rowan County will receive its own N.C. Senate seat as a result of court-ordered redistricting but criteria recently approved by state legislators could make things slightly more interesting for local politics.

Criteria approved earlier this month show Rowan and Stanly counties matched up in the same group under the N.C. Senate’s plan. The two counties, according to the criteria, contain slightly more than the population of one ideally sized Senate district.

The grouping isn’t necessarily a guarantee that legislators will place Rowan and Stanly in the same Senate district, but it’s a strong indicator of what’s to come.

County groupings generally serve as an outline in which districts are drawn. Some groupings are roughly equal to one ideally sized district. Others contain a population that requires many senate districts.

So what would a Rowan-Stanly district mean for local politics?

One obvious effect is that Rowan County would contain an overwhelming majority of the population and voters. If local Republicans unite behind a single candidate, that person would have a relatively easy path through the primary and general election.

But shared party affiliation doesn’t automatically create agreement, as we saw during an Aug. 1 meeting of some local Republicans. During that meeting, one group preferred former County Commissioner Chad Mitchell to fill former Sen. Andrew Brock’s vacant seat. A second group preferred attorney Bill Graham. To avoid conflict, the local party decided not to endorse a candidate in advance of today’s official meeting.

Another potential effect is that all Rowan residents would be represented by the same person, which has not been the case in recent history.

Meanwhile, it appears redistricting could place Iredell and Yadkin counties into a single Senate district, according to the recently released criteria. Davidson and Montgomery counties could be one district. The criteria shows Davie and Forsyth counties grouped together in what will likely be several districts. Cabarrus and Union counties are grouped together in what will also be multiple districts.

For Rowan, N.C. House groupings could also make for interesting local politics. As proposed, the groupings pose the potential for one of Rowan County’s two members of the N.C. House to be “doubled bunked” — placed in the same district as another incumbent. If that occurs, Reps. Carl Ford, R-76, or Harry Warren, R-77, could be forced to run against a colleague to secure another two-year term.

Regardless of the groupings local Democrats are sure to face significant hurdles in electing one of their own to a seat in the General Assembly. It would be unexpected for the Republican-controlled legislature to craft local districts that were favorable for Democrats.

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