LAURINBURG — U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, whose district includes Scotland County, says Democrats who are complaining that district lines were rigged to give Republicans an advantage are sore losers who “can’t win elections.”
“It’s not surprising,” said Pittenger, a Republican.
A three-judge federal court ruled last week that the boundaries of the 2016 map drawn by GOP lawmakers were an illegal partisan gerrymander. It orders the GOP-controlled General Assembly to redraw the lines by Jan. 24 so they could be used in this year’s election. The court also said it would hire a redistricting expert to make its own alternate map in case the General Assembly’s next set of maps don’t meet muster.
Lawyers representing state Republican legislative leaders asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to block enforcement of the lower court order. In the emergency motion to the court, GOP lawyer Paul Clement argued that requiring a redraw less than three weeks before candidate filing begins for the Feb. 12 midterm elections would create uncertainty among voters and potential candidates.
The primary is May 8 and the General Election is in November.
The problem isn’t the map, Pittenger said.
“The current map is logical and fair. It keeps districts and counties intact,” he said. “The problem is they can’t win elections.”
Republicans have 10 of the 13 U.S. House seats in North Carolina.
The court found that was achieved by putting too many blacks in single districts, and thereby diluting their voting strengths in nearby districts.
Judge James A. Wynn, in writing the court’s 191-page opinion, said the maps were “motivated by partisan invidious intent” and violated the 14th Amendment, which provides Americans with equal protections.
Pittenger said the Democrats lose elections so they shop for a liberal court that will force the drawing of a new map that will give them more chances to win, he said.
“They can’t win elections,” Pittenger said. “I don’t think people like socialism.”
The Democratic Party has become the party of Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, he said.
“The voters don’t like their ideas,” Pittenger said.
Gerrymandering is not new, the congressman said.
“The Democrats did it for 100 years,” Pittenger said.
The map that was struck down was approved by lawmakers and the courts, he said. It was struck down by a three-judge panel with two Democrats on it, including W. Earl Britt, a Robeson County native and an appointee of President Jimmy Carter.
“This is far above the mandate of the courts that are to enforce the law,” Pittenger said. “It is up to legislators to make the laws.”
State Rep. Garland Pierce, a Democrats who represent Scotland County, disagrees.
North Carolina is neither completely Republican or Democrat, he said. A more balanced congressional map would give the state’s voters a better chance to vote for the party of their choice.
Pierce said the gerrymandered districts have resulted in an imbalance in power.
“In the past it has always been six to seven one way or the other,” he said. “… I think it’s ludicrous to only have three Democrats.”
Pierce also is willing to entertain the idea of a nonpartisan, independent panel to do the work.,
Dan McCready, a Democrat from Charlotte, is an announced candidate for Pittenger’s district, which extends from Charlotte eastward, taking in parts of Union, Anson, Rockingham, Scotland, Robeson, Cumberland and Bladen counties.
“For too long, politicians in Raleigh and Washington have taken advantage of rigged maps to stay in power and limit our voices. The court’s ruling is clear — that abuse of power isn’t just wrong, it’s against the law,” he said.
North Carolina’s residents are ready for representatives who will listen to them and fight for them, he said.
“No matter what the courts rule, we’re going to keep fighting to ensure the people, not special interests, have the power again in Congress,” McCready said.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]