Legislative Democrats and Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper are making it clear they will oppose the legislation to move North Carolina’s primary election date from May 17 to June 7.
Legislative Republicans will vote this week to delay primaries by three weeks. It’s a move first reported by Carolina Journal over the holiday weekend.
Cooper is already telling legislative Democrats he will veto the measure, sources tell CJ. Without directly announcing a veto, Cooper made his position clear in a statement to WNCN.
“The three-judge panel during the trial has already found as fact that the maps drawn by Republicans are intentional, partisan gerrymanders,” according to the statement from Cooper’s office. “The Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of these districts, and legislators should avoid additional attempts to undermine the voting process.”
— Michael Hyland (@MichaelWNCN) January 18, 2022
State Sen. Wiley Nickel, D-Wake, who is running for Congress in the enacted 6th Congressional District of Wake, Durham, and Orange Counties, also announced his opposition.
“I will be voting NO on the Republican bill to delay the 2022 primary election,” Nickel said is a press release out Tuesday. “There is adequate time for the gerrymandering case to play out in the NC Supreme Court, and for fair maps to be approved in time for the May 17th primary election.”
Nickel and legislative Democrats appear to be openly rooting for the state Supreme Court to violate state law and draw new districts itself, without giving GOP legislators a chance to answer the court’s concerns with new maps drawn through the prescribed legislative process.
“This bill is an attempt to take power away from the Court to provide an appropriate remedy with fair maps,” Nickel’s release read. “Republican legislators had their chance and offered yet another extreme partisan gerrymander. We can’t trust Republican legislators to redraw maps in an honest and transparent process.”
Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, also indicated his opposition to the bill and signaled fellow Senate Democrats will oppose the bill as a group.
Imposing districts on the General Assembly without letting them revise the maps first is sure to spark a constitutional crisis.
All state and local primary elections are scheduled now for May 17, based on an order from the state’s highest court. The court had delayed the original March 8 primary date because of the ongoing legal dispute tied to election maps.
Legislators are concerned about a schedule adopted by the Supreme Court for addressing redistricting lawsuits. The court will hear arguments on redistricting on Feb. 2. That date could open the door for the court to draw its own maps to meet deadlines for the May 17 primary.
Cooper and legislative Democrats may not have the last word on the issue. The Democrat-controlled state Supreme Court could move the primary on its own if it is not intentionally attempting to usurp the General Assembly’s constitutional role in map drawing by creating an unworkable timeframe.