Friday, 12 November 2021 17:29

New district maps shake up representation for Richmond County

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ROCKINGHAM — Recently approved redistricting maps could result in changes and uncertainty in Richmond County’s representation.

The county is currently in District 66 for the N.C. House of Representatives, which also includes Montgomery County and a sliver of northeastern Stanly County.

But the redrawn map pairs Richmond with southeastern Moore County, creating an candidate conundrum.

The new District 52 has two incumbent representatives in the same District — which pits Rep. Ben Moss, R-Richmond, against Rep. Jamie Boles, R-Moore, in a Republican primary.

Moss announced in a press release Thursday that he would be seeking the District 52 seat.

The decision, Moss said, was made after “several weeks of fervent prayer and consideration with my family …”

Boles told the RO Friday that he, too, would be running for reelection and that a formal announcement would be coming next week.

“We knew this was a possibility,” he said about being double-bunked in the redistricting, adding that this is the third time he’s been through that process since being elected in 2008.

Boles said there is a lot of crossover between Richmond and Moore counties. As a funeral director, he has been working with families in Richmond for years.

Ken Goodman, a former state representative, previously told the RO that, although the maps have been redrawn throughout the years, the district including at least a majority of Richmond County* was represented by someone from Richmond County for as long as he can remember. In recent memory, Wayne Goodwin served four terms, from 1996-2004 and was succeeded by his wife, the late Melanie Goodwin, for three terms. 

Goodman was elected in 2010 and served until his appointment to the N.C. Industrial Commission in 2019. Former District Court Judge Scott Brewer was appointed to fill out the rest of Goodman’s term, but was defeated in the 2020 election by Moss — the first Republican to hold the seat in decades. 

(* Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Scotland, represented a portion of Richmond County before the last redistricting.)

The state Senate district is also quite different.

While the current District 25 comprises all of Richmond, Anson, Moore and Scotland counties, the new District 29 takes away Moore and Scotland counties and adds Montgomery, the western half of Randolph and southeastern Union.

This would have double-bunked Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, with Sen. David Craven, R-Randolph.

However, as the the Carolina Journal reported, McInnis recently switched his residency to run in the new District 21, which comprises Moore County and most of Cumberland County.

“I have been involved in business and charity work in Moore County for decades, McInnis told CJ. “I have owned a home in Pinehurst for many years and spend considerable time there, so making this my permanent residence was easy, I really just needed to get a fresh gallon of milk.”

McInnis could not be reached by the RO Friday afternoon.

Former Rockingham mayor Gene McLaurin held the seat for one term before being defeated by McInnis in the 2014 election. Prior to McLaurin, the seat was held by Laurinburg doctor William Purcell from 1997-2013, and the late Hamlet-born Richard Conder, who served seven terms from 1984-1997.

According to Ballotpedia, Craven was appointed in the summer of 2020 to fill out the remainder of the term vacated by the resignation of Sen. Jerry Tillman, and was elected to the seat last November.

As for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Richmond is in a new district — again.

The county is currently part of the 9th Congressional District, which also includes other counties mostly along the U.S. 74 corridor: Anson, Scotland, Robeson and Union counties, as well as parts of Mecklenburg, Bladen and Cumberland counties.

Dan Bishop won a special election in 2019, defeating Democrat Dan McCready, after the seat sat vacant for most of the year following an absentee ballot scandal linked to the Mark Harris campaign.

According to the new map, District 9 will comprise mainly Charlotte, and Richmond County — along with Union, Anson, Hoke, Moore, Montgomery, Scotland and Stanly counties and eastern Mecklenburg — make up the redrawn 8th Congressional District.

During the Republican primary, half of the 10 candidates were from outside the district. However, a quirk in the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require members of the U.S. House of Representatives to live in the district they’re elected to represent, only the state.

Bishop told the RO on Wednesday that he would be running for reelection in District 8, which includes about 85% of the population he currently represents and he’s spent the past two years interacting with those constituents.

Although he doesn’t currently live in the new district — and doesn’t have to — Bishop added that he is planning to move.

“People prefer to have their congressman living in their district,” he said.

There are at least two pending lawsuits challenging the new maps.

Filing begins at noon on Dec. 6 and runs through noon on Dec. 17.