Gov. Pat McCrory
North Carolina Republicans are going for a scorched and salted earth
policy, when it comes to taking over the state. It's not enough to fix congressional districts for Republicans, they're now trying to do it at the local level.
This session, bills introduced by Republican lawmakers would reconfigure a number of local government bodies around the state, prompting allegations that Republicans are gerrymandering and changing election rules at the city council and county commission levels.
The General Assembly last week changed the composition of the Board of Commissioners in Wake County, home to 10 percent of the state’s population, after November elections in which Democrats gained a 7-0 majority there. Other spoils are both surprisingly puny, like Trinity, N.C., population 6,600, and very significant, like the Democratic stronghold of Greensboro, the state’s third-largest city.
Republicans say the bills will encourage good government and, in some cases, increase representation and geographic diversity. State Senator Chad Barefoot, the Republican sponsor of the bill to change the Wake County board in Raleigh, said he was trying to bring more fairness to a system in which the deck was stacked in favor of urban voters at the expense of those in suburban and rural areas.
Democrats disagree. "They are drunk with their power, and are trying to reshape the rules to dictate the outcomes so that they win at every level of government, whether or not the voters want them to win," State Senator Josh Stein rejoins, homing in on the key problem here: "whether or not the voters want them to win." Of course, the state's Republicans have been working on those voters, too, making sure that as many Democratic voters are suppressed out of the system as possible.
It's such a radical plan even some Republicans are opposed to it. Gov. Pat McCrory blasted it. "If someone wants to change the form of government in one of your cities, then go run for city council, for mayor," he told Raleigh's News & Observer. Jerry Daniels, a Republican Trinity City Council member is appalled. One bill would shrink his council from nine members to six. "She's trying to get Republicans on the board and Democrats off. I'm a Republican, and I'm upset about it."
So much for representative democracy in North Carolina, even for non-tea party Republicans.