RALEIGH – N.C. Congressional District 5, which has extended from Watauga County eastward to Forsyth County for more than 20 years, could be dramatically changed and shifted southward to Cleveland and Gaston counties, according to the N.C. General Assembly.
According to the map that passed the Republican-controlled N.C. House by a 55-46 margin on Nov. 14 along party lines, the new NC-5 will include all of Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Alexander, Caldwell, Burke, Cleveland and Gaston counties, plus the eastern half of Rutherord County – 64.92 percent of its population – and a small sliver of northern Catwaba County that contains 9.92 percent of its population.
The map, House Bill 1029, now goes to the Republican-controlled N.C. Senate. If approved, the map would not need to go to the governor for approval as N.C. law bestows that power to the N.C. General Assembly.
The proposed N.C. Fifth District contains 733,499 people, which is equal to the other 12 districts in N.C.
U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) would remain eligible for re-election in NC-5 under the current map as she lives a few hundred yards away from the Watauga/Avery border off N.C. 105.
The current N.C. Fifth District would lose Avery, Surry, Stokes, Yadkin and Forsyth counties.
The N.C. Congressional maps are being redrawn after a bipartisan three-judge panel unanimously declared that the current maps, drawn in 2016, violated the state constitution as unlawful partisan gerrymanders.
Rep. David Lewis (R-Dunn), a co-chair of the Joint Select Committe on Congressional Redistricting, said after the vote on Nov. 14 that no partisan data was used to draw the maps, according to media reports. Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Raleigh), the N.C. House minority leader, said the current map gives Republicans an 8-5 edge and said the edge should be less, according to media reports.
The current maps give Republicans a 10-3 edge in N.C. delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. Partisan gerrymandering is when a political party draws district lines to give its party an advantage in elections. As of late October, there are 2.49 million Democrats, 2.2 million unaffiliated and 2.03 million Republicans registered to vote in North Carolina.