Jordan Green and I have been talking politics for 15 years. We’ve both lived in Greensboro that entire time. But until this year, we have never voted in the same congressional election because we’ve always lived in different districts, as did all of my friends in Winston-Salem.
Not everybody likes the new congressional maps that we’ll be voting on in North Carolina this year — a rectification of the GOP gerrymander dating back to 2011, which itself was retaliation for the Democrats’ gerrymander in place when I became a North Carolina voter in 2000.
But I like them. And you should too — at least in the Triad, where for the first time in modern history we are all voting in the same district.
The new 6th Congressional District includes all of Guilford County and a part of Forsyth that includes Winston-Salem, a new urban district that reflects the Piedmont Triad as a market, a genuine Combined Statistical Area with the No. 3, 5 and 9 cities in the state, an oasis of blue in a red state that for this entire century has been carved up by people who don’t live here, its political influence diluted, its majority marginalized.
Consider this: Under the old map, 6th district incumbent Rep. Mark Walker was elected by voters from Rockingham, Alamance, Caswell, Person, Randolph, Chatham and Lee counties, with a sliver of eastern Greensboro chiming in. Rep. Ted Budd relied on voters from Iredell, Rowan and Davie counties along with a southwest quadrant of Guilford. Winston-Salem was the easternmost point in the 5th Congressional District, held for a long time by Rep. Virginia Foxx, which also included Stokes, Surrey, Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Wilkes, Yadkin, Alexander and Catawba counties.
It’s kind of insane.
Worth noting is that Walker has opted out of running for re-election in his district this year because he doesn’t have a prayer — though he began his political career at Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro, he could never win with an urban electorate.
And this year’s slate of candidates is a hot one, with heavy hitters from all three Triad cities in the mix.
This is how things are different when voters choose their candidates, instead of the other way around.