SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — North Carolina’s electoral districts were drawn in an unconstitutional manner that swayed elections in favor of Republicans, according to a recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling.
In September, the General Assembly approved new House and Senate electoral districts to comply with a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling that month. The General Assembly is still working out new U.S. Congressional districts, but its House and Senate districts have already been redrawn via House Bill 1020 and Senate Bill 692.
This means notable state-level district changes have arrived in southeastern, North Carolina, and will impact the 2020 election.
New Hanover, Brunswick changes
House District 19, currently served by Republican Representative Ted Davis, will soon cross county lines to include a majority of Brunswick County’s coastal communities. The new map will exclude Davis, who announced in September that in 2020 he will instead run as in incumbent in House District 20, currently served by Republican Representative Holly Grange.
The court cited double-bunking (or two elected representatives living in the same districts after new maps were released) as a permissible reason to amend lines; this ended up not being an issue in New Hanover County, despite the fact that both Rep. Grange and Rep. Davis reside in the newly-redrawn District 20 in the Porter’s Neck area because in July, Grange announced her intention to run for Governor.
This leaves Davis’ current constituents without an incumbent in the new House District 19 for the 2020 election. Marcia Morgan, Davis’ previous Democratic challenger, announced in July she intended to run to serve House District 19 again. In 2018, Morgan was less than 1,000 votes and a few percentage points shy from ousting Davis.
Earlier this month, David Perry also announced he would run for District 19. Perry ran for the seat in 2018 as a Libertarian candidate, taking just under 4% of the vote, or around 1,400 votes. This year, Perry intends to run as a Republican candidate, according to his candidate page.
House District 18, currently served by Democratic Representative Deb Butler, will no longer include any portion of Brunswick County in 2020. The district currently includes large swaths of Brunswick County, including Leland, Navassa, Northwest, and Sandy Creek; on the New Hanover County side of the river, it includes most of downtown Wilmington. Redrawn House District 18 pushes Rep. Butler’s New Hanover County constituency further north.
Iler announces re-election campaign
Republican Representative Frank Iler is serving his fifth term in the House, currently representing House District 17. Rep. Iler announced Tuesday he plans to run as the district’s incumbent in 2020, noting changes to his district which will soon include portions of northern Brunswick County currently served by Rep. Butler.
Redrawn House District 17 straddles both sides of Highway 17 in Brunswick County and all of its northern municipalities, including Leland, Belville, Navassa, and Northwest.
Reached Tuesday, Rep. Iler said he coincidentally moved from Oak Island (now in House District 19) to Calabash this past year, which meant the state did not have to factor in de-bunking to make way for his residency in September.
Rep. Iler said he’s happy to represent redrawn District 17 rather than 19, because he said he’d rather have to lose one-third of Brunswick County than two-thirds of it.
“If I’m 100% Brunswick County, I’m a happy camper. I’m ok with it,” he said.
With no incumbent in House District 19, Rep. Iler said the race will be “wide open” in 2020. He said he hopes a Brunswick County resident will choose to run. “We over here hope we get a strong candidate from Brunswick County so that we’ll actually end up with two reps,” Rep. Iler said. “That’s on my wish list.”
His northernmost constituents reside in Brunswick Forest, so Rep. Iler said he’s already familiar with Leland-area politics and concerns. In 2010, the district included northern Brunswick County areas, in a race Iler won against current Northwest Mayor James Knox.
“I have been involved to a great degree with some of the issues in the north end regardless of where the lines were,” Iler said.
Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Shallotte and Boiling Spring Lakes would no longer fall in District 17. Under the new maps, both municipalities would still be included in District 17.
View existing state-level House of Representatives boundaries below that will no longer apply in 2020:
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