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Redistricting reshapes Super Tuesday primaries in Alabama and North Carolina

By Fredreka Schouten, CNN

(CNN) — Some voters in North Carolina and Alabama are selecting US House candidates Tuesday in contests dramatically reshaped by congressional redistricting in recent months.

In North Carolina – where members of the Republican-controlled General Assembly drew a congressional map last fall that heavily favors their party – the GOP is poised to win at least 10 of 14 House seats this year, up from the current 7-7 partisan split. Flipping several seats now held by Democrats could help Republicans retain their threadbare majority in the chamber after November’s elections.

Three Democratic incumbents in North Carolina – Reps. Jeff Jackson, Wiley Nickel and Kathy Manning – opted to head for the exits or seek a different elective office, rather than run for reelection in newly redrawn, Republican-friendly districts. In addition, two GOP House members – Reps. Dan Bishop and Patrick McHenry – also decided to leave Congress after this year, creating vacancies in districts that favor their party.

In Alabama, meanwhile, new lines have triggered an incumbent-versus-incumbent primary Tuesday for one House seat and could set up a history-making outcome this fall if Alabamians choose, for the first time, to send two Black lawmakers to the US House.

Legal confrontations lead to new Alabama lines

In a legal confrontation that drew national attention to Alabama, a federal court approved a new congressional map last year that gives the state’s African American residents – who make up about 27% of the population – the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice in a second House district.

(Currently, Black voters make up the majority of voters in just one district out of seven in Alabama. It’s represented by Democrat Terri Sewell, the only Black member of the state’s congressional delegation.)

The contest for the state’s newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District – which cuts across a southern swath of Alabama and has a significant Black population – has drawn 18 candidates: 11 Democrats and seven Republicans. Given racial voting patterns in the state, political observers say a Democrat is likely to prevail in the fall and a Black candidate could emerge as the victor. Most of the Democrats seeking the nomination are African American, as are several of the Republican contenders.

Several state lawmakers are seeking the Democratic nod, including Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, state Sen. Merika Coleman and state Reps. Napoleon Bracy, Jr., Juandalynn Givan and Jeremy Gray.

Other Democratic contenders include James Averhart, a former US House candidate, and executive director of NAACP’s Alabama branch, and Shomari Figures, a former aide to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who also served in the White House during the Obama administration. Figures hails from a politically prominent Mobile family, and his mother is a state senator.

Daniels and Figures led the Democratic field in fundraising at the end of the pre-primary reporting period on February 14, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

If no candidate secures more than 50% support Tuesday, the top two contenders will face off in an April 16 runoff.

The court-ordered redistricting has also thrown two Republican incumbents – Reps. Jerry Carl and Barry Moore – into the first member-versus-member primary of the 2024 election.

Moore currently represents the 2nd District. Both men were first elected to Congress in 2020 and have sought to position themselves as the true conservative in the contest.

North Carolina’s open seats draw multiple contenders

The five open seats in the Tar Heel State have attracted a raft of Republicans contenders.

Fourteen candidates, for instance, are running in the GOP primary for Nickel’s redrawn 13th District seat, which now includes communities that ring Raleigh and some counties along the border with Virginia.

The GOP hopefuls include the top spenders in the race: Smithfield lawyer Kelly Daughtry, Wake Forest businessman Fred Von Canon and Brad Knott, a former federal prosecutor from Raleigh. Daughtry and Von Canon, who each have partly self-financed their campaigns, have made immigration a top issue in their campaign ads.

Another GOP contender, physician Josh McConkey, has drawn headlines for pledging to plow his recent lottery winnings into the race.

Multiple candidates also are vying for the open seats now held by Manning and Jackson, who is running for state attorney general. Contenders for Jackson’s reconfigured 14th District seat include current state House Speaker Tim Moore, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Trump also has endorsed former Capitol Hill staffer and ex-health insurance industry lobbyist Addison McDowell, one of six Republicans seeking to succeed Manning in the redrawn 6th District. Former US Rep. Mark Walker, who represented the Greensboro-area district in Congress for three terms, also is running in the primary. The conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth, meanwhile, is backing Bo Hines, who was the GOP nominee for the 13th District in 2022 but lost to Wiley.

Primary candidates in North Carolina must receive at least 30% of the vote to avoid a potential May 17 runoff.

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