From an editorial June 22 in the Anson Record in Wadesboro:
Do the rural counties in the new N.C. 9th Congressional District really have a voice – or will they be drowned out by the overwhelming population of Charlotte?
Following the recent primary election, the latter seems to be the case. At least when it comes to Republican voters.
Todd Johnson, a former Union County commissioner who owns an insurance company with offices in Anson, Richmond and Scotland counties, swept those counties on Election Day. In fact, early voting totals showed him in the lead over incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-Charlotte, and the other challenger, Charlotte pastor Mark Harris.
However, as the precincts from Cumberland and Mecklenburg counties began reporting, the two metro-area candidates started gaining ground, ending up with a margin of less than 1 percent between votes, which led to Harris filing for a recount.
The new congressional districts were drawn by state legislators in February after a federal court ruled that two of North Carolina’s districts, the 1st and 12th, were gerrymandered based on race.
We agree with Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, who told the Richmond County Daily Journal in February that the new map does a better job of keeping counties whole within a district.
Currently, the 1st Congressional District, which covers most of the northeast region of the state, encompasses all or part of 24 counties from Durham to Elizabeth City with a sliver stretching southward to Greenville and New Bern.
But was lumping some of the state’s most economically depressed counties, which are largely rural, with the state’s largest city such a good idea?
Goodman also said the new district was one where a Democrat could conceivably win.
That remains to be seen, as Pittenger – after winning the recount Monday – will take on Christian Cano in November.
Cano went unchallenged in the primary, though former state senator Gene McLaurin and Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue had considered throwing their hats in the ring before deciding not to file by the deadline.
Even if they had, there’s a good chance Cano could have won anyway, if the Republican primary is any indication.
How can someone accustomed to the interests of bankers and business professionals adequately represent farmers and displaced mill workers?
This isn’t a personal attack on Pittenger himself, but rather posing an important question regarding the anatomy of the district.
Let’s say McLaurin had decided to run against Cano. Even if he had garnered the support of of the counties he once represented on the state level, would it have been enough to overtake someone from a higher populated area?
Whoever wins in November, we hope that they will remember they serve more than just those in the Queen City.