Ghosts of gerrymanders past

Published October 26, 2023

By Gary Pearce

When I blogged last week that North Carolina Republicans are guilty of “the most extreme and egregious gerrymandering in American political history,” they responded: Democrats did it, too.

No, they didn’t. Not like this.

Democrats last drew maps after the 2000 census. The elections that followed were close, so close that one legislative session had co-Speakers, a Republican and a Democrat.

That seems fair in a closely split state.

Before that, Democrats drew maps after 1990. But in 1994, Republicans won a majority, then lost it four years later. They came within one seat of winning the Senate.

Either Democrats were bad at gerrymandering, or they drew fair districts.

Back then, Republicans denounced gerrymandering. They promised to end it. But, after they won, they broke their promise.

Also, as Congressman Jeff Jackson (pictured) noted in an op-ed,when Republicans took over, “they had access to powerful new software that allowed for surgical targeting of specific voters. This became steroids for gerrymandering.”

Today, computer power compounded by evil intent can negate voter power.

Jackson is one target of today’s Republican gerrymandering. They drew him out of his congressional seat.

But that may backfire. They drew him right into the attorney general’s race.

He’ll have a statewide audience for his considerable communications firepower. He can turn it full-force on the Republicans.

Every Democrat running for statewide office – including governor, lieutenant governor and Supreme Court – and every Democrat running for the legislature should run full-bore against this broken promise and brutal disregard for the people’s will.