Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
The 2020 Census added a congressional seat in North Carolina, which was approved by the North Carolina legislature last week. The majority of Western North Carolina residents who have historically been located in District 11 will now be considered District 14. The name of the district is not the only thing that is changing. Representative Madison Cawthorn announced last Thursday night that he will not be seeking election in the same district and will instead be running for election in the newly drawn District 13.
“I believe we have a unique opportunity to increase conservative leadership from North Carolina,” Cawthorn said in a video posted around 7 p.m. on Thursday. “I have every confidence in the world that regardless of where I run the 14th congressional district will send a patriotic fighter to DC. Knowing the political realities of the 13th district I am afraid that another establishment ‘go along to get along’ Republican would prevail there. I will not let that happen. I will be running for Congress in the 13th Congressional District.”
According to Cawthorn’s video statement, his decision to run in District 13 was made primarily because his residence is close to the border between District 13 and 14. Rep. Cawthorn lives in Henderson County and while the entirety of Henderson County remains in District 14, the county borders Rutherford County which is located in the newly drawn District 13.
“Our state is growing and changing rapidly. We now have a brand-new congressional district, and as it stands, the new lines have split my constituents. My house is almost directly on the line of separation for the 13th and the 14th Congressional districts, and now half of the counties in the new district are counties I currently represent. My people are split, and I am forced to make a very difficult decision. Ultimately, I have to answer this question: what choice would enable me to make the greatest impact on the affairs of our state and our nation, so that our children and grandchildren can inherit the best version of America we can possibly give them? After consulting my family, my constituents, and with prayerful consideration, the answer is clear. I will be running for congress in the 13th congressional district,” said Cawthorn.
In Cawthorn’s video statement, he also claimed that half of the counties now in District 13 are counties he currently represents in District 11. Polk and McDowell counties and a slice of Rutherford County will move from District 11 to District 13 and accounts for around 100,000 residents. The remaining area of District 13 includes Burke, Cleveland, Gaston, and a slice of Mecklenburg County.
District 11 isn’t the only district changing for WNC residents.
The new maps, which were approved by both the House and Senate leaders, adds Transylvania County to Senate District 50, giving Senator Corbin an entirely new county to represent — and campaign in when re-election rolls around.
“I am looking forward to picking up Transylvania County and to have the opportunity to serve those folks,” said Senator Corbin. “I’m not particularly happy about losing a few precincts in Haywood, but even though those people may no longer be in District 50, I remain committed to representing them anyway. I’m not going to pay attention to an imaginary line.”
An organization called Democracy Docket, formed by Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, announced Friday that a group of voters who successfully challenged previous North Carolina maps will make a similar appeal in state court contesting the latest congressional maps. The new legal challenge focuses on partisan gerrymandering and claims boundaries approved by Republican-controlled legislature Thursday were drawn for political gain in a way that violates the N.C. Constitution.
The Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which analyzes maps and seeks to eliminate partisan gerrymandering across the country, gave all three maps an overall “F” rating, as they would all provide a significant Republican advantage.
The maps drawn after the last census in 2010 led to a political and legal fight that lasted almost a decade.
Senator Kevin Corbin considering a run for Congress
With the news the Rep. Madison Cawthorn will not be seeking election in Western North Carolina, a familiar face has said that he is considering a run in District 14 — which comprises the majority of the current District 11.
“Soon after Rep. Cawthorn made it public that he wasn’t going to run for re-election in our district, my phone started ringing. I have told people that I am considering it. At this point, I will tell you I’m giving it a very, very serious look,” said Sen. Kevin Corbin (R-Franklin).
Sen. Corbin said the he is happy working in the North Carolina General Assembly and after one term serving in the Senate, a run for Congress may be in the near future.
“My first thought when people asked if I was considering running, was, ‘No, I’m very happy at the Senate,” said Senator Corbin. “Right now in this capacity, I am in a place to do a lot of good for my district,’ and that’s important to me,” said Corbin. “But, I have had a lot of response from across the district asking for me to step up and a lot of people offering to help me in that endeavor, so it is a possibility.”
Sen. Corbin is currently serving his freshman term in the North Carolina Senate, but is no stranger to Raleigh. Sen. Corbin made the move to the Senate after serving two terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives serving NC District 120.
The filing period for Congress opens Dec. 6 and continues until Dec. 17, with the primaries set for March 8. The election for Congress would be in November 2022.