Yesterday, the federal courts said that state courts should decide the gerrymandering suit brought against North Carolina’s Congressional districts. Given the outcome of a similar suit involving legislative districts, expect new Congressional districts in 2020. Also expect our primaries to be upended again. Filing for the March primary begins in two months. Hearing the suit, drawing and approving new districts will almost certainly take longer than that.
Republicans who control the General Assembly should just fix the redistricting mess. They have control of both chambers right now and can pass a redistricting program of their own design. If they don’t, they may find themselves on the other side of the lawsuits like they were for the previous 20 years. In the 1990s and first decade of the 21stcentury, Republicans brought the suits against gerrymandering, not Democrats.
In 2020, Republicans may well face a political tsunami like we haven’t seen since, well, 2010. The impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump will continue and the case against him gets stronger every day. Yesterday, the top diplomat in Ukraine testified to a clear quid pro quo that Trump and his toadies tried to withhold aid Congress had provided until the Ukrainian president publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens. It’s damning testimony of both illegal activity and a coverup by Trump loyalists that may include perjury.
The public is increasingly souring on the president. Support for impeachment is solidly over 50% now. It will likely climb as more evidence comes out. Republicans who are blindly defending him will pay a steep price if the direction of this investigation continues. They will look like they’re putting their political careers ahead of the good of the country. Voters will not be very sympathetic.
Support for Trump hovers around 40%. If it stays there or drops, Republicans up and down the ballot will suffer defeat. With the more favorable legislative maps they have in 2020, Democrats in North Carolina could find themselves in the majority. Instead of passing a redistricting reform for 2021, they could draw maps that protect their majority and pass a reform bill for 2030, giving them a decade to repeal Republican policies.
Instead of gambling, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger should just reintroduce the nonpartisan redistricting bill he sponsored when he was still in the minority. Given their demand for redistricting reform, Democrats would have to support it. It would protect Republicans against heavily gerrymandered districts in 2022 in the event of a Democratic takeover and give them bragging rights as reformers. If they don’t pass it and Republicans get wiped out in 2020, they will be as arrogant as Democrats did after 2010.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >