By Sarah Nagem
A new congressional map approved by the state’s redistricting committee would bring major changes to Border Belt counties in southeastern North Carolina.
Under the proposed map, which a state Senate committee passed on Monday, Robeson County would become part of District 3, along with Bladen, Columbus, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender and Duplin counties and part of Onslow.
Robeson is currently in a district that spans to the west and is represented by Republican Dan Bishop of Charlotte.
Voters in the new District 3 would likely favor Republicans by more than 56%, according to Dave’s Redistricting, a commonly used redistricting tool that analyzes several factors to determine the competitiveness of races.
North Carolina gained a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2020 Census, so lines must be redrawn.
Political analysts say the proposed congressional map, drawn by the Republican-led Senate redistricting committee, favors GOP candidates. The Republican-led General Assembly could give its stamp of approval on the map as soon as this week.
If the map holds, Democrat Charles Graham will have a different set of voters to woo. Graham, who currently serves in the N.C. House, lives in Robeson County.
A member of the Lumbee Native American tribe, Graham announced his candidacy Oct. 5 with a campaign video about a failed Ku Klux Klan rally in Robeson County in 1958. His message on equality was met with criticism over his support of House Bill 2 in 2016, The News & Observer reported.
Graham apologized for voting for the controversial measure known as the “bathroom bill,” which limited some LGBTQ rights.
Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 5,600 voters in Robeson County, according to the state Board of Elections. But like some other rural counties home to conservative Democratics, voters increasingly tend to favor GOP candidates.
Bishop won more than 58% of the vote in Robeson County last year for District 9.
Change for Bladen, Columbus
Columbus and Bladen counties are currently in a district that spans from the southeastern tip of the state to Johnston County, near Raleigh. Republican David Rouzer of Wilmington now holds the seat, winning more than 60% of the vote in 2020.
Rouzer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
What about Scotland County?
Scotland County would become part of District 8. The district would also include several counties in the south central part of the state, along with the Charlotte suburbs in eastern Mecklenburg County.
The district would likely favor Republicans by more than 57%, according to Dave’s Redistricting.
Bishop narrowly won Scotland County last year, with 50.46% of the vote.