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Wait and see: Politicians react to ruling blocking congressional map

SALISBURY — Rowan County could, again, elect representatives to Congress under different district maps.

And reactions to a recent court ruling range from not being surprised to cheering the decision.

While legislative maps this week were approved by North Carolina courts, the state’s congressional map was blocked from being used in 2020 on Monday. The Republican-drawn maps were unlawfully manipulated for partisan gain, judges ruled.

“When a legislature engages in extreme partisan gerrymandering, it identifies certain preferred speakers (e.g. Republican voters) while targeting certain disfavored speakers (e.g. Democratic voters) because of disagreement with the views they express when they vote,” the court’s ruling said.

The three judges agreed “there is a substantial likelihood that plaintiffs will prevail on the merits of this action by showing beyond a reasonable doubt that the 2016 congressional districts are extreme partisan gerrymanders” in violation of the North Carolina Constitution.

The ruling follows a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year that it does not have the jurisdiction to hear partisan gerrymandering cases, returning the matter to state courts.

The judges suggested lawmakers draw the lines quickly, as the congressional primary filing is Dec. 2-20. The State Board of Elections wants the lines to be final by Dec. 15.

A spokesman for Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican whose 13th District could be redrawn, said he is looking at the court’s decision. Budd’s district was created as a result of a federal court ruling in 2016 that moved the district to the Piedmont from the Raleigh area.

“Congressman Budd is still evaluating the court’s decision but remains thankful for the opportunity to serve his constituents and to fight for their values in Congress,” said spokesman Michael Luethy. 

The Salisbury Post reached out to multiple spokesmen for Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8, on the ruling but did not receive a comment before deadline.

State Senate Leader Phil Berger said he was not surprised by the congressional ruling after the recent decision on the legislative districts. No decision has been made on who will draw the map, but he expects the legislature will.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said Republicans were held accountable for efforts to rob North Carolinians of their voice with the N.C. legislative and congressional maps.

“Today’s decisions are major victories for all North Carolinians, who will now elect their legislative and congressional representatives under fairer maps,” Goodwin said. “Voters should choose their representatives not the other way around, and we hope after today’s rulings that North Carolina Republicans will finally give up their hyper-partisan, unconstitutional efforts to cling onto power by robbing North Carolinians of free and fair elections.”

Scott Huffman, a Democratic challenger for Hudson’s seat in District 8, said the ruling is a move in the right direction and he is excited for North Carolina voters.

“I feel like this is a win for people who vote for representation in Washington,” Huffman said.

He said District 8 likely would remain the district in which he lives but that he would like to see all of Rowan County in it, including his mother’s house in Spencer so she can vote for her son.

Huffman said he will have to wait to see how the map turns out. Huffman said he didn’t want to speculate what he would do if he was in a district that had Democratic control.

No matter what, he will still be running, Huffman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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