November 20, 2019/Press

Editorial Boards Across NC Agree: New Congressional Maps Are A “Gerrymandered Mess”

Raleigh – Legislative Republicans traded one partisan gerrymander for another, ramming through on party-line votes new Congressional maps that “continue to lock in a predetermined result” and are a “gerrymandered mess,” according to editorial boards from across the state. There’s no surprise there – “for nearly the whole decade, the GOP has drawn up maps in state races and for U.S. Congress that the courts have found to be illegal.”

Republican Senator Jerry Tillman threw “into the garbage bin any notion of his party trying to draw fair maps” when he argued “that the map is about gerrymandering to elect as many representatives from his party as possible.” As editorial boards agree, and Democrats have long argued, “we believe it is time for the courts to end the charade.”

News & Observer: A Republican senator just blurted out why judges should reject NC’s new Congressional maps
By the Editorial Board
November 19, 2019

Key Points:

  • It’s sometimes best not to attach too much importance to the things that come out of N.C. Sen. Jerry Tillman’s mouth. He can be the cringe-inducing uncle at the Thanksgiving table, picking unnecessary fights and uttering caustic remarks that make even his fellow Republicans wince. But last Friday, as the N.C. Senate debated a new round of Congressional district maps, Tillman grabbed a microphone and sprinkled some revealing truth into his usual dose of snideness. We hope that Superior Court judges, who will soon declare whether those those Congressional districts are valid, were listening.
  • So if the prevailing party gets to draw the maps, says Tillman: “Do you think it should be anything other than partisan?”
  • Well, yes. So do the Superior Court judges who sent the maps back to Republicans last month with the admonition that their “extreme partisan gerrymandering” was “contrary to the fundamental right of North Carolina citizens to have elections conducted freely and honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the people.”
  • The new maps, however, suffer from that same kind of extreme gerrymandering. They continue to lock in a predetermined result, just one that’s two districts more favorable to Democrats than the old maps. That might be more palatable to seat counters in Congress, but it’s no better for North Carolina voters.
  • Plaintiffs also argue that several of the districts — including NC-09 and NC-12 that touch Mecklenburg County — are “near carbon copies of the prior gerrymandered districts,” attorney Daniel Jacobson told the editorial board Monday. In other words, the maps that Republicans approved Friday suffer from the same flaws as the maps the judges rejected. They still pack districts demographically to ward off competitiveness. They still steal the voices of voters. They’re still unconstitutional, regardless of Jerry Tillman’s interpretation of what the Constitution might allow.

Fayetteville Observer: Our View: GOP state senator reveals the real strategy behind redistricting
By the Editorial Board
November 19, 2019

Key Points:

  • They say the definition of a political gaffe is when a politician is caught telling the truth. Well, Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman on Friday told the truth about his party’s motives in drawing new maps for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Among several telling things about Tillman’s comments is his belief that how district maps are drawn are the determinant of which party wins. He says the Democrats had a “bad” map in 2010 and that’s why they lost the N.C. General Assembly — not because, for example, the GOP had superior policy ideas.
  • But the most important takeaway is Tillman’s throwing into the garbage bin any notion of his party trying to draw fair maps, which differs from what party leaders have been saying.
  • There is a history here, and it’s frankly not a good one for the Republicans who control both the House and Senate in the state legislature. Time and again, for nearly the whole decade, the GOP has drawn up maps in state races and for U.S. Congress that the courts have found to be illegal.
  • The map in question determines the 13 House representatives from North Carolina who go to Washington. Despite the popular vote totals between the parties typically being close every two years, extreme gerrymandering has all but ensured the Congressional delegation is a 10-3 split, favoring Republicans, In the November 2018 races, the 10-3 split held despite the popular vote breaking down 50.4 percent Republican and 48.3 percent Democrat.
  • If the panel agrees with the plaintiffs that the new map also fails to pass muster, we believe it is time for the courts to end the charade. The panel can and should appoint a nonpartisan person to draw the map — what is called a special master.

CBC: Editorial: Tillman offers ‘EXHIBIT A’ of illegal gerrymandered congressional maps
By the Editorial Board
November 20, 2019

Key Points:

  • “Folks, you (motioning toward Senate Democrats) drew them for 140 years and we sat there and didn’t like it. But we took it,” Tillman said, calling out specific legislators by name, during a particularly contentious portion of debate on the districts. Not quite. The facts are since the 1970s, neither Republicans nor African-American voters “took it.” They fought on the legislative floor and in the courts, and not without success, to change gerrymandered congressional and legislative district maps.
  • Tillman is right that the map is about gerrymandering to elect as many representatives from his party as possible. What it is NOT about is fair representation.
  • What do people in Cumberland County have in common with those 130 miles to the west in Cabarrus County? What connects people in Mecklenburg County to Robeson County 120 miles to the east? What binds Lincoln County and Rockingham County 130 miles to the north or Roxboro in the Northeast Piedmont to Rowan County 125 miles southwest?
  • The link is, in this case, electing as many Republicans as possible for a partisan advantage and maybe also settling a score from a primary election five years ago.
  • But anyone can look at the congressional district map legislators produced and plainly see it is a gerrymandered mess and it leaves too many North Carolinians without a voice in their government.
  • It is more undeniable evidence of the urgent need to adopt a nonpartisan system for creating state legislative and congressional districts. The priority must be the clear will of the voters and not partisan manipulation.