Several local lawmakers elected to the General Assembly for the first time may have to run again in 2017.
A federal court this week ordered the State of North Carolina to withdraw House and Senate districts by March 15, 2017. The court said a special primary and general election must be held, for the 28 districts they ruled unconstitutional, in the Fall of 2017.
Just a few weeks ago, Donna White of Clayton won election to the NC House District 26 race. The ruling means she will have to run for re-election in 2017 instead of 2018.
“We just need to stay calm and there is due process to be had and it my understanding there is already an appeals process being put into place, Representative Elect White told WTSB News on Wednesday. “I feel confident the maps were drawn appropriately and there was never any intend to do otherwise. At this time we have to let the courts and the appeals process take place.”
“It is important to remember and keep in mind, this is another process to strip North Carolina of its conservative slant and it’s just a shame to the people who voted. And there are voices who want to undo what the majority of the voters want. It is an insult to the voter,” White added.
There are at least 19 house and 9 senate districts effected including the District 11 State Senate seat won by Rick Horner. The district includes a portion of Johnston County.
“I said repeatedly during both the primary and the general election that two year terms were not long enough. People are running for office every other year. Now if three knuckle headed federal judges have their way we may be running in back to back years,” Horner said in an email.
“Think about what this does to North Carolina’s legislative cycle. Remember we have a long session in odd years and a short session in even years. If this ruling stands, going forward legislators will be elected to begin their term with a wrap up – short session. This historically was designed for adjusting the prior years budget. They will be forced to campaign, possibly in a primary and general election during the long session where there attention need to be on the people’s business. Completely turning the historical rhythm of our legislature upside down is nuts.”
“I cannot believe these three righteous souls should have the power to disrupt our state’s general election cycle like this,” Horner said. “We need somebody in Washington with some common sense to help us.”
Larry Strickland of Pine Level who won the NC House District 28 seat on Nov. 8th was asked for his response on the potential for a 2017 election. He replied, “I have no comment.”
Republican lawmakers have promised to appeal the decision. An appeal is already before the US Supreme Court.
The NC Democratic Party released a statement saying they were pleased with the federal court order to redraw the districts they claim were the result of racial gerrymandering.
If the federal court order stands, a primary will be held in August or September 2017 with an election in November 2017. The winners would then take office on January 2, 2018.