iStock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina Republican Rep. George Holding announced Friday that he will not seek reelection after the state’s congressional maps were redrawn last month. His seat, representing the state’s 2nd Congressional District, is just one of those that has been altered into a likely Democratic stronghold after a state court determined that old congressional maps were partisan gerrymanders.
“The newly redrawn Congressional Districts were part of the reason I have decided not to seek reelection,” Holding said in a statement. “But, in addition, this is also a good time for me to step back and reflect on all that I have learned.”
Last week, Holding told reporters that he would choose not to run in a primary against another colleague to represent North Carolina in the House.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball now rates the race as Safe Democratic.
“In the older map, the 2nd District used to be kind of whiter parts of Wake County, plus redder parts of counties around the area,” J. Miles Coleman, the associate editor at Crystal Ball, told ABC News. “But now, the new 2nd District, it’s entirely Wake County, so it has more of the bluer parts of the Raleigh area.”
Democratic lawyer Deborah Ross has already announced she will run for the seat. Ross ran a close race for Senate in 2016, with endorsements from a number of prominent Democratic organizations, including EMILY’s List and the North Carolina AFL-CIO, but lost to incumbent Sen. Richard Burr.
In North Carolina’s newly redistricted 6th Congressional District, Republican Rep. Mark Walker is expressing interest in launching a primary bid against incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis, after his district was redrawn to likely elect a Democrat, according to a spokesperson.
Walker’s Greensboro-area district now takes in larger, more liberal, nearby cities, like Winston-Salem.
Crystal Ball rates Walker’s new seat as Safe Democratic, as well.
Tillis’ main primary opponent, businessman Garland Tucker, left the race early last week after spending $1.6 million of his own money building up his campaign, saying he did not have the funds to compete. Tucker has yet to endorse Tillis, telling local radio station WFAE that he would support the “most conservative candidate” in the race.
Local Republicans are also looking for a new alternative to Tillis. The chair of Rockingham County Republican Party told reporters that she would like to see Walker run for Senate.
“He’s doing this not for himself, he’s doing this for us,” Diane Parnell, the Rockingham County GOP Chairwoman, said to local WXII.
Walker doesn’t have long to decide: The state’s filing deadline is Dec. 20
In June, before any changes to the congressional maps had been made, Walker issued a statement saying he would not primary against Tillis, though he did have the support of a very big name.
“The support from President Trump and conservatives across North Carolina encouraging me to run for the Senate has been deeply humbling,” he said. “I am confident that my continued service in the House will best help our efforts to reclaim the majority from Nancy Pelosi and advance our shared conservative goals.”
Walker also hasn’t ruled out running for the House in 2022 — once the state has new maps after the 2020 Census. Experts believe that North Carolina will gain a 14th House seat after the Census takes place.
“North Carolina definitely is going to gain a seat in the Census. I would be surprised if it isn’t another Democratic-leaning seat,” Coleman said. “As you get more districts, it’s harder to gerrymander them, you have less room for creativity, basically.”
Republicans currently hold 10 of the state’s 13 congressional districts. Under the new maps, it is expected that Democrats will pick up two seats, making the divide 8-5.
Races in North Carolina are shaping up to be some of the most expensive in the country in 2020. NextGen America, a group funded by Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, announced in November plans to spend $4.5 million on voter engagement efforts in the state to elect Democrats in the Senate and other statewide offices.
According to ad-tracking firm Kantar/CMAG, the Senate race has seen nearly $13 million in TV ad buys with just under a year until the election.
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