Republicans tried again weeks later with a slightly less-slanted map that would have created several potentially competitive seats but still left the GOP with a giant advantage—so much so that it still could have chalked up a 10-4 or even 11-3 edge in a good year for the party, as 2022 is shaping up to be.
But out of patience with Republicans, and mindful of the accelerated schedule the Supreme Court had laid out to ensure a timely primary on May 17 (and a possible July 26 runoff), a lower court quickly rejected the second GOP plan as once again being an impermissible partisan gerrymander. The judges instead substituted a map drawn up by a team of special masters that establishes seven districts won by Joe Biden and seven by Donald Trump—an even split in an evenly divided state.
That doesn't necessarily mean we can expect a 7-7 delegation next year, though: One of those Biden districts, the 1st, favored the president by only 7 points, and another, the 13th, by just 2. But without question, this is the fairest map North Carolina has seen in some time. Under state law, however, court-imposed districts may only be used for a single election, so we're likely to see yet another new map in 2024—and maybe sooner. While the state Supreme Court greenlighted the current plan, Republicans have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn it on the basis of an extremist anti-democratic legal theory that, of course, a number of far-right justices have previously expressed support for, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, we'll run down all of the major filings in each of the new districts below (with a stop first to discuss the competitive Senate race). The state has a complete list of all candidates, and you can follow along with a copy of the new map right here. Note that North Carolina's rules for runoffs differ from those in most other states: The leading candidate in a primary only needs to clear 30% of the vote, and runoffs are not automatic—they must be requested by the runner-up.
● FL Redistricting: On Friday, both chambers of Florida's Republican-run legislature passed the new "two-map" proposal that was first advanced by the state House last month, but before final roll calls were held, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to veto the plan and called it "DOA." There looks to be little chance of a veto override as things stand, since Democrats voted almost in lockstep against the bill (with the exception of one state senator, Audrey Gibson), while seven Republicans in the House and one in the Senate also opposed it.
The votes were a far cry from the wide bipartisan majority that supported the Senate's original congressional map in January, which garnered backing from every Republican in the upper chamber and all but four Democrats. DeSantis, however, bitterly attacked that proposal and put forth maps of his own proposing to aggressively gerrymander the state, centered on an effort to dismantle the Black-plurality 5th District in northern Florida.
In an attempt at a compromise, the House came up with an unusual approach: It crafted a map that would target the 5th, but included in its legislation was a backup plan that would leave the 5th intact that but only take effect if the first map were struck down by the courts. The House's proposal, however, would still have maintained the 5th as a blue-leaning district with a sizable Black population, whereas DeSantis wants to vaporize the seat entirely—despite the risk that such a move might violate the Voting Rights Act or state law—and ensure every district in north Florida leans Republican.
If DeSantis follows through on his pledge—and there's every reason to believe he will, because his desire to maximally gerrymander Florida has endeared him to his base—then lawmakers would likely have to turn back to a plan like the Senate's that would be capable of securing veto-proof majorities, or else the two sides will find themselves in an impasse that could only be resolved by the courts.
● NC-Sen: While there were plenty of late developments in North Carolina's U.S. House races, the contest to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr in this light-red state has been stable for some time. The Democratic field features 11 different candidates, but former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is the only one running a serious campaign. Beasley, who would be the first Black woman to represent the state in the upper chamber, ended 2021 with $2.82 million in the bank.
There's far more action in the 14-way Republican primary, where Rep. Ted Budd and former Gov. Pat McCrory have been going at it for some time. Budd has the endorsement of Donald Trump and has already benefited from millions in spending from the radical anti-tax Club for Growth, but Politico reported in late January that the GOP leader was "starting to have regrets" about supporting the congressman after seeing bad poll numbers. Trump, though, went on to reiterate he was still for Budd, and he's shown no indication he's wavering. Budd finished last year with a small $2.23 million to $1.95 million cash-on-hand lead over McCrory, who narrowly lost re-election in 2016 to Democrat Roy Cooper.
The field also includes two other notable Republicans who have struggled to gain traction. Former Rep. Mark Walker, who shares a similar hardline profile as Budd, stayed in the Senate race even though Trump offered to endorse him if he instead tried to return to the House, but he had a mere $572,000 available. (Trump himself reportedly told an RNC donor retreat on Saturday, “We've got to get Walker out of that race.”) Businesswoman Marjorie Eastman had an even smaller $287,000 war chest, but a super PAC called Restore Common Sense spent about $1 million on digital and radio ads to help her in January.
● PA-Sen, PA-Gov: The Republican pollster TargetPoint, on behalf of the conservative Free Beacon, has conducted a new survey of Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary and finds rich guy David McCormick leading TV personality Mehmet Oz 25-19, while Carla Sands, a former Trump ambassador to Denmark, takes 11%. In the battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, meanwhile, former Rep. Lou Barletta has a 17-14 edge over state Sen. Doug Mastriano, with all others in single digits. In both races, a plurality of voters said they were undecided or preferred some unnamed candidate.
● GA-Gov: A new poll of Georgia's Republican primary for governor from Fox5 Atlanta, conducted by the GOP firm InsiderAdvantage, shows former Sen. David Perdue gaining ground on incumbent Brian Kemp. In this latest survey, Kemp leads 44-35, which is a considerably smaller margin than the 41-22 advantage he enjoyed when InsiderAdvantage last checked in on the race in December.
Since that time, however, former state Rep. Vernon Jones abandoned his bid and opted to run for the House instead at the behest of Donald Trump, who orchestrated the move in order to boost Perdue. It may be working, as the bulk of Jones' support, which stood at 11% in the previous poll, has now gone to Perdue.
● NY-Gov, NY-AG: The Daily News briefly caught up with Andrew Cuomo on Thursday as he left a Manhattan lunch with another ex-governor, Chris Christie, and asked him whether he was considering a bid for state attorney general, to which Cuomo replied, "No." However, a group called "Friends of Cuomo" that's apparently setting the stage for some sort of comeback has now spent $1.3 million on TV ads trying to rehabilitate the disgraced former leader, including a spot that cites a professional misconduct complaint Cuomo supposedly plans to file against Attorney General Tish James that misleadingly tries to frame its claims that she engaged in "witness tampering and perjury" as facts reported by "CBS News." Not so: The outlet simply published a story about Cuomo's allegations and did not confirm them.
● AZ-01: Environmental consultant Ginger Sykes Torres, who announced a bid against Republican incumbent David Schweikert back in January, earned an endorsement on Wednesday from 3rd District Rep. Raúl Grijalva for the August Democratic primary. Torres joins a field that already includes Jevin Hodge, who lost a close 2020 campaign for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and former Phoenix Suns employee Adam Metzendorf, in the nomination fight for a suburban Phoenix seat that would have favored Joe Biden by a narrow 50-49. Hodge ended 2021 with $243,000 on hand, while Metzendorf had $71,000 to spend.
Before he can focus on the general election, though, Schweikert faces a very well-funded primary foe of his own. Insurance executive Elijah Norton dumped close to $2 million of his own money into his campaign last year, and he concluded December with a $2.09 million to $326,000 cash-on-hand lead.
Norton has been attacking the ethics of the incumbent, who in 2020 agreed to pay a $50,000 fine, accept a formal reprimand, and admit to 11 different violations of congressional rules and campaign finance laws in a deal with the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to conclude its two-year-long investigation. Schweikert, though, has made it clear he'll go after Norton's turbulent departure that year from his company ahead of what the Arizona Republic characterized as "a class-action lawsuit filed against the company and others claiming it had made numerous calls to phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry."
● AZ-06: State Sen. Kelly Townsend ended her Republican primary campaign on Friday for a swingy seat in southern Arizona that was located about 50 miles away from her Mesa home. Townsend said that, while she'd been encouraged to run by people "close to" Donald Trump, "in spite of repeated assurances, the promised formal endorsement has still not materialized."
Townsend's departure leaves Juan Ciscomani, a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, as the only notable Republican running for an open seat that Biden would have carried by a slim 49.3-49.2. Ciscomani, whose endorsement from the Congressional Leadership Fund very much did materialize, ended 2021 with $746,000 to spend. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Kirsten Engel held a $549,000 to $404,000 cash-on-hand edge over state Rep. Daniel Hernández.
● CO-07: Sen. John Hickenlooper endorsed state Sen. Brittany Pettersen on Thursday, which gives her the support of Colorado's entire Democratic delegation in her campaign to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter.
● FL-22: Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz on Friday became the first notable candidate to enter the August primary to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. Several other Democrats are eyeing this seat, but Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said earlier that day that he would stay out. On the Republican side, former state Rep. George Moraitis was also a no.
Moskowitz notably delivered an emotional address to his colleagues in the state House after the 2018 massacre that occurred at his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which the South Florida Sun-Sentinel credits with helping pass a gun safety bill. He left the legislature after the 2018 elections to join Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the governor later appointed him to his current post to succeed Barbara Sharief, a fellow Democrat who resigned to unsuccessfully seek the 20th District last year.
While Moskowitz's ties to the hardline Republican could emerge as an issue in the primary, the paper notes that he is also the son of the late Mike Moskowitz, an influential South Florida Democratic leader and fundraiser who was "widely admired in political circles."
● IL-01: State Sen. Jacqueline Collins on Friday committed to running in the June primary to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Bobby Rush. Collins back in January said she would collect petitions for both the 1st Congressional District and for re-election to the legislature and would make her final decision later, but she’s now announced that she's chosen the former option. She launched her bid with the backing of several legislators including fellow state Sen. Elgie Sims, who had been considering running here as well, and Senate President Don Harmon.
● IL-03: State Rep. Delia Ramirez has earned an endorsement from 9th District Rep. Jan Schakowsky ahead of the June Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat.
● NC-01: Four Democrats and eight Republicans are running to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield in a northeastern North Carolina seat where redistricting slightly lowered Biden's margin from 54-45 to 53-46. The two main Democratic candidates appear to be state Sen. Don Davis, who is one of the more prominent moderates in the legislature, and former state Sen. Erica Smith, who badly lost the 2020 primary for the upper chamber and was waging a second Senate campaign before Butterfield retired. Davis ended 2021 with a $132,000 to $97,000 cash-on-hand lead over Smith, while the other two Democrats haven't attracted much attention yet.
Things are less defined on the Republican side. The only elected official in the contest is Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson, who had $1 million on hand thanks almost entirely to self-funding. Also in the running are attorney Billy Strickland, who badly failed to beat an incumbent state senator in a 2020 primary, and 2020 nominee Sandy Smith, who lost to Butterfield 54-46. Strickland held a $250,000 to $206,000 cash-on-hand edge over Smith, with both of them doing some self-funding. Another self-funder is businessman Brad Murphy, whose $163,000 war chest mostly came from himself.
● NC-02: Freshman Democratic Rep. Deborah Ross got her chance to run for the House last cycle after court-supervised redistricting created a new and safely blue seat, and she should have no trouble staying there. Ross faces no intra-party opposition in a district that Biden would have carried 63-35, a constituency that includes Raleigh and northern suburbs.
● NC-03: Republican Rep. Greg Murphy faces four primary foes in this coastal North Carolina constituency, but there's no indication that any of them pose a serious threat. Trump would have won 62-37 here.
● NC-04: Veteran Rep. David Price is retiring from a 67-32 Biden seat (his best in the state under the new map) that's home to the college towns of Durham and Chapel Hill, and eight fellow Democrats are campaigning to succeed him. The contest includes two elected officials: Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who in 2020 became the first Muslim woman to win elective office in North Carolina, and state Sen. Valerie Foushee, who would be the first Black woman to represent this area in Congress. Both began running last year, and Allam ended 2021 with a $245,000 to $133,000 cash-on-hand lead.
They were joined in January by Clay Aiken, the former "American Idol" star who unsuccessfully ran against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers several maps ago in 2014 for what was then the safely red 2nd District; Aiken would be the Tar Heel State's first gay member of Congress. None of the other five Democrats have generated much attention so far.
● NC-05: Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx faces just one little-known primary opponent in her quest for a 10th term in this seat in Winston-Salem and northwestern North Carolina, turf that Trump would have carried 60-39.
● NC-06: While the two maps passed by the Republican legislature would have placed freshman Rep. Kathy Manning in a Trump seat, the Democrat faces no serious opposition in a Greensboro area district that Biden would have taken 56-43.
● NC-07: Republican Rep. David Rouzer briefly seemed to be in for a serious fight last month after the legislature passed a map that would have made him choose between two competitive seats, but the court-drawn boundaries made his life considerably easier. Rouzer faces just one underfunded primary opponent in a southeastern North Carolina constituency that Trump would have taken 56-43. One of the four Democrats running here is state Rep. Charles Graham, who ended last year with $109,000 on hand.
● NC-08: Republican Rep. Dan Bishop, who currently serves the old 9th District, faces no intra-party opposition in the new 8th, a seat in Charlotte's eastern suburbs that Trump would have won 66-32.
● NC-09: Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican who holds the old 8th District, has three primary foes in the new 9th, but there's no sign any of them are any threat in this south central North Carolina constituency. The only Democrat running for this 53-45 Trump district is state Sen. Ben Clark, but he had only $23,000 on hand at the end of 2021.
● NC-10: Rep. Patrick McHenry, who has long been an influential member of the Republican leadership, is running for a 10th term in a west central North Carolina constituency that, at 69-30 Trump, is the reddest in the state under the new map. McHenry has four primary foes, but there's no sign any of them are capable of putting up a fight.
● NC-11: Far-right freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn caught a break on filing day when a federal judge rejected a lawsuit that tried to keep the Republican off the ballot in this western North Carolina seat because of his actions both in the lead-up to and during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Plaintiffs argued that Cawthorn, who among many other things said that day—as rioters were breaching barricades—that "the battle is on the house floor," stood in violation of a 14th Amendment prohibition banning anyone who has "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" from holding office unless two-thirds of Congress grants them amnesty. But Judge Richard Myers, a Donald Trump appointee, disagreed, saying that the Amnesty Act of 1872 granted absolution to anyone who might participate in any future rebellion, not just former Confederates.
Legal experts have shredded this theory on a number of grounds, not least the fact that an act of Congress cannot nullify an amendment to the Constitution. The State Board of Elections said it was "reviewing the court's decision with its counsel" but did not yet say whether it would appeal.
If he remains on the ballot, though, Cawthorn will face seven primary foes, in part because of hijinks he engaged in last year. After the legislature passed its first map, the congressman responded by announcing that, rather than run again in the seat that was the obvious successor to his existing constituency, he'd instead campaign for an even more conservative district in the Charlotte area that he barely represented. The court-drawn map, however, cut off that option, so Cawthorn ultimately decided to run for the revamped 11th, a 54-44 Trump seat in the state's western mountains where almost all of the residents are already his constituents.
But that brief period when Cawthorn planned to hop districts inspired some notable candidates to kick off bids to succeed the congressman, and several of them have refused to defer now that Cawthorn is staying put.
State Sen. Chuck Edwards, who has largely self-funded his campaign, ended 2021 with $329,000 in the bank. Inn owner Bruce O'Connell, who began campaigning against Cawthorn all the way back in July, has poured even more of his money into the race and had almost $1 million available. Also in the mix is Michele Woodhouse, a former GOP chair for the 11th District, though she only has $20,000 on hand. Cawthorn, by contrast, had just $282,000 socked away, but his high profile ensures he can raise much more if he needs it.
Six Democrats are running as well, though the only one who appears to be running a serious campaign is Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who closed last year with $404,000 in her coffers. Pastor Eric Gash was also making a go of it, but he announced shortly before filing closed that he was dropping out.
● NC-12: Democratic Rep. Alma Adams faces only one little-known primary opponent in a seat that includes part of Charlotte and its northern suburbs; Biden would have prevailed 64-34 here.
● NC-13: The Democratic primary for this competitive open seat in Raleigh's southern suburbs only fully took shape hours before filing closed when former state Sen. Sam Searcy announced that he would run. Searcy, a businessman who started both a distillery and a company specializing in clinical research contracts, self-funded $470,000 back in 2018 when he ran what was then numbered the 2nd Congressional District, but he dropped out to run for the legislature. He resigned shortly after winning a second term to pursue an "unexpected opportunity" he did not identify at the time; several months afterwards, Gov. Roy Cooper appointed him to post at the State Board of Community Colleges.
Searcy joins three other Democrats in the nomination contest, though the only other notable candidate at this point appears to be his former colleague, state Sen. Wiley Nickel. Nickel had been campaigning to succeed retiring Rep. David Price before redistricting moved his Wake County base to the new 13th, and he ended 2021 with $379,000 on hand, about a third of which came from him.
Republicans have eight candidates, and all six major contenders had been campaigning last year under the first GOP-passed map. The best-known of them may be former Rep. Renee Ellmers, who represented part of the greater Raleigh area in the House from 2011 to 2017 in a brief career that was defined by some very wild swings of fortune. Lately, though, her political luck has been all bad: She decisively lost the 2016 nomination to fellow incumbent George Holding after mid-decade redistricting led to their confrontation, and she earned a mere 7% of the vote in her 2020 primary for lieutenant governor. Ellmers launched her newest campaign in early December but only had $9,000 to spend a few weeks later.
The only other notable candidate who didn't do a significant amount of self-funding in 2021 is party activist DeVan Barbour, who had $154,000 on hand. Perhaps the best-connected contender is law student Bo Hines, who played as a wide receiver at North Carolina State in 2014 before transferring to Yale: Hines, who began running back in January of 2021 against Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx but later sought different versions of open seats, had $397,000 to spend, and he's since earned the backing of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth.
Army veteran Kent Keirsey, meanwhile, had $323,000 available, while pastor Chad Slotta had $232,000. Attorney Kelly Daughtry, who is the daughter of a former state representative, finished the year with only $151,000, but she likely has far outpaced her many opponents in the money race since then: NC Insider's Brian Murphy reported in late February that Daughtry just self-funded an additional $2 million.
● NC-14: The new court map created a new 57-41 Biden seat that includes part of Charlotte and its western suburbs, and Democratic state Sen. Jeff Jackson is the heavy favorite to claim it for his party. Jackson, an Army veteran who has been talked about as a rising star for years, spent most of 2021 running for the U.S. Senate before dropping out in December, and he recently said he still has almost all of the $830,000 war chest he ended that campaign with.
Jackson's only intra-party foe is Ram Mammadov, who badly lost a 2020 general election last year for a state Senate seat in South Carolina. Two Republicans are also in, but it remains to be seen if either can put up a fight in a constituency this blue.
● OH-13: Former state Rep. Christina Hagan has begun collecting signatures to seek the Republican nomination for the 13th Congressional District under the map that was approved Wednesday by the GOP-dominated redistricting commission, though the state Supreme Court has yet to say if these boundaries can be used in 2022. Hagan herself did not commit to anything either, instead telling Cleveland.com she was "praying through" her decision. Hagan ran for Congress during the last two cycles under the old map: She lost the 2018 primary for the 16th to now-Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, and the 2020 general election for the 13th to Democratic incumbent Tim Ryan.
● OK-02: Republican Chris Schiller, who serves as CEO of the local chain Economy Pharmacy, has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid for this safely red open seat in eastern Oklahoma.
● OR-05, OR-Gov: Former Gov. Barbara Roberts, who left office in 1995, has weighed in in a pair of Democratic primaries: She's backing state Treasurer Tobias Read in the race for governor, and she's also supporting attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner's effort to unseat Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader in the redrawn 5th District. When Schrader first ran for Congress in 2008, Roberts supported one of his opponents in that year's primary, but she aided him in the general election.
● PA-17: A consultant for Allegheny County Council member Sam DeMarco, who also leads the county Republican Party, says he's considering running to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Conor Lamb in a suburban Pittsburgh seat that Joe Biden would have carried 52-46.
DeMarco is the only Republican who holds countywide office in this very blue community, though that's not necessarily a sign that he has crossover appeal. That's because, while there are two at-large spots on the Allegheny County Council, each party may only select one nominee. The Democrats in 2015 and 2019 outpaced DeMarco by margins of 60-31 and 65-35, respectively, but DeMarco's distant second-place finishes each earned him a spot on the body.