ALBEMARLE — The redistricting process in North Carolina has taken many twists and turns, but in what appears to be its likely end, Stanly County will be part of North Carolina’s 8th U.S. Congressional District. The last remaining question is whether the U.S. Supreme Court will take up an appeal from the state’s Republican leaders. If they do, the districts may again shift, creating a very short window for candidates to file and for voters to get to know these candidates, as primaries for the 2022 midterms happen in May.
The current maps were imposed by the state Supreme Court, working through the Wake County Superior Court, after they deemed both the original maps drawn by the legislature in 2021 and the later redraw early this month to be partisan gerrymanders favoring Republicans. The new maps, which are only for use in the 2022 elections, were drawn not by the legislature, but by a panel of “special masters” chosen by the courts.
Only one candidate has filed to run for the new 8th District seat as of March 1, U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, a Republican who currently represents much of the territory in the new 8th District. Bishop is already a U.S. congressman, representing the 9th District under older maps, a district that ran from the southern suburbs of Charlotte along the border with South Carolina east through Robeson County.
Rep. Richard Hudson, the Republican congressman currently representing Stanly County, will now seek re-election in the new 9th District, which is just east of the 8th. His old district included Fort Bragg and other areas to the east of Stanly, and Hudson decided that’s where he could best serve after spending a lot of his time in Congress working on military and veteran issues.
If the U.S. Supreme Court declines to take up the case, the filing deadline to run for any of these seats will close March 4. While Bishop is currently running alone, it is possible another candidate will jump in the race by Friday’s deadline.
The district, however, is highly favorable to Republicans, with analysis provided by the courts showing that a composite of recent races predicts the 8th District to yield 66% of the vote to Republicans and 33% to Democrats. This means whoever wins the Republican primary will be the presumptive general election winner as well.
Bishop has close ties to powerful Republicans in the state, having served in both the N.C. House and Senate; and nationally, having been a close ally of former President Donald Trump. With these connections, a strong fundraising advantage, experience in Congress and high name-ID in many of the other counties in the 8th District, Bishop is widely seen as the favorite to be Stanly County’s next congressional representative.
Bishop made very clear that while he will happily represent the new counties included in his new district, he did not look favorably on how these maps were drawn.
“Activist judges have subverted our constitution,” he said in a press release, adding that he was considering running for statewide judicial office instead.
He decided to file again for U.S. Congress instead of for the state’s courts, but he said on Twitter that believed the constitutional order needed to be restored after the state’s Democrat-majority Supreme Court usurped the Republican legislature’s constitutional duty to draw the districts.
“I’m running because next year we can finally take back the House, fire Nancy Pelosi, and stop Joe Biden from inflicting any more damage to our country,” Bishop said in a statement when he filed.
Bishop concluded by saying that he and his wife, Jo, were “excited to meet voters across Montgomery and Stanly Counties [since he has already represented the other counties in the new 8th] and we hope to earn their trust and yours in the days ahead.”