Politics & Government

New map would put Rep. Alma Adams far from her district

Alma Adams
Alma Adams jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

A proposed new map that would dramatically change North Carolina’s congressional districts would give one Charlotte-area representative a half-dozen new counties and leave another far outside her district.

Democratic Rep. Alma Adams represents the 12th District, which now runs from Charlotte to her home of Greensboro.

Under the plan approved by a legislative committee Wednesday – and expected to be passed by the entire General Assembly this week – the 12th would shrink to Mecklenburg County. That would leave Adams 90 miles up the road on Interstate 85.

And Republican Robert Pittenger, whose 9th District now includes parts of Mecklenburg, Iredell and Union counties, would see his district extend to Fayetteville.

Barring action from the U.S. Supreme Court that would leave existing districts intact, lawmakers are expected to cancel the congressional elections scheduled for March 15 and set a new election date. That would mean reopening candidate filing.

Adams said in a statement that she remains focused on doing her job. “I’m confident that voters will remember my more than 30 years of dedicated public service when the time comes to cast their ballots,” she said.

In a statement, Pittenger said the proposed map “doesn’t change my commitment to serving the people of North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.”

“If the district boundaries change, we will be honored to extend that same excellent constituent service to additional communities,” he said.

The new map also would affect Republican Rep. Richard Hudson of Cabarrus County, who represents the 8th District. That district would lose some counties to the new 9th.

Democrats generally denounced the map. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue of Raleigh called it an “abomination” and “an assault on democracy.” Republicans applauded it.

The map also put GOP Rep. George Holding of the 13th District and Democrat David Price of the 4th into the same district. Republican Reps. Patrick McHenry of Lincoln County and Mark Meadows would see their districts – the 10th and 11th – remain relatively unchanged.

Adams could still run in the 12th, despite living far from Mecklenburg County.

“Thank goodness if you’re an incumbent that you don’t have to live in your district to represent your district,” said Michael Bitzer, a Catawba College political scientist.

There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires a representative to live in his or her district. Several congressional candidates this year live far from the districts they want to represent.

Republican Albert Wiley Jr., for example, lives on a barrier island off Bogue Sound in southeastern North Carolina. He’s running in a district that runs from Gaston County to Asheville.

For years, Republican Rep. Sue Myrick and Democrat Mel Watt represented the 9th and 12th districts despite living two doors apart in Charlotte’s Fourth Ward.

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill