After representing Orange and Chatham counties for eight years, Sen. Valerie Foushee will not serve Chatham after the 2022 election, following the redistricting of North Carolina’s three political maps for the next decade and approved along partisan lines earlier this month.
Foushee, a Democrat who lives in Orange County, announced Wednesday she is running to represent the Triangle in the the 6th Congressional District of the U.S. House, the News & Observer reported. Multiple Democrats have announced bids for the seat after U.S. Rep. David Price announced his retirement in October.
Prior to announcing her bid for Congress, Foushee told the News + Record the redistricting process should’ve included “more transparency” and opportunity for the public to participate.
“I enjoy working with residents of Chatham,” she said. “It was certainly an honor to represent Chatham in the Senate. I am willing to serve where I am designated to serve. But the processes are over. We have what we have, and I look forward to continued service to the state.”
Chatham will now have a new state senator after the 2022 election, with Democrat Sen. Natalie Murdock representing the new Senate District 20 if reelected.
“It is no secret that the redistricting process failed to provide maps that represented the interests of North Carolinians. The reality is that North Carolina is a 50-50 state, but these gerrymandered districts give Republicans a heavy partisan advantage,” Murdock told the News + Record. “That said, I am honored that I will be representing the wonderful folks in Chatham County.”
The first lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s new political districts as unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering was filed the day after the districts were approved, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. That lawsuit only challenges the congressional map, but all three new maps — for North Carolina’s 14 seats in the U.S. House, 50 seats in the N.C. Senate and 120 seats in the N.C. House — passed along partisan lines with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.
All the new maps would give Republicans a sizable advantage in future elections even if the two parties roughly split the statewide vote 50-50, the N&O reported outside political analysis shows, with the new Congressional map expected to give Republicans a 10-4 or 11-3 advantage in 2022.
Chatham’s representative in the House, Robert Reives II (D-Dist. 54) — who serves as the chamber’s minority party leader — will also see a change in his district borders if reelected. Right now, his district includes Chatham and part of Durham County. According to the new redistricting, his district no longer includes Durham.
Reives told the News + Record the new maps will lead to an “outsized Republican political advantage.” He previously proposed an amendment to state law that would shift redistricting authority from the General Assembly to an independent commission.
“This year’s redistricting process unfortunately left us in the same position we were in before,” he said. “The legislative and congressional districts presented do not represent the diversity of North Carolina. These maps also will lead to far fewer people of color serving in the General Assembly — I don’t believe any of these results are positive for our state. This process has shown that we as a body just cannot produce the maps this state deserves. We should have an independent entity drawing these maps, not politicians.”
Redistricting aside, Murdock said she’s prepared to learn about issues important to Chatham residents, specifically naming clean air and water, access to health care and school funding.
“Those are top priority and I know that some of what I’ve learned while serving Durham will lend itself to me in Chatham,” she said. “Representative Reives will be a great resource for me; I look up to him as a mentor and a friend and he looks forward to supporting me as well.”
Foushee’s new district includes Orange, Caswell and Person counties. She still plans to seek another term in the Senate, the News + Record previously reported.
“I’m not happy about it,” Foushee told the News + Record of the likely redistricted lines in August. “I’m happy to serve, let’s be clear, but as a representative of Chatham now for eight years and my husband was born in Chatham — we have lots of friends and relatives in Chatham, he has siblings who live in Chatham and my sister lives in Siler City — I wasn’t just representing the county itself. Because of our relationships with friends and family, it was like one continuous district. There were no county lines for me.”
Even so, Foushee expressed confidence in her colleague’s future representation of Chatham in the Senate.
“Senator Murdock will be a fine senator for Chatham,” Foushee said. “She’s engaged. She’s a people person. Chatham will not lose anything in this representation with Sen. Murdock.”
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.
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