Tuesday News: Gerrymandering lives on


REPUBLICAN-DRAWN DISTRICT MAPS DESIGNED TO KEEP THEM IN POWER: Meredith College political science professor David McLennan looked at the new maps Monday and gave Democrats a good chance of breaking that veto-proof majority with seats to spare. He leaned heavily on recent polling data that gives Democrats a big boost on generic ballots, as well as a long-standing feature of mid-term elections: The president's party usually fares poorly. Bob Phillips, whose group, Common Cause, has pushed unsuccessfully for redistricting reforms in North Carolina, saw little hope for Democrats in Monday's data dump, which uses past election results and new district lines to show which way a district leans and, thus, whether it's more likely to elect a Democrat or a Republican next year. "In our quick analysis, it would appear that the maps guarantee the majority party super-majorities in both chambers," Phillips wrote via email.

UNFAIRNESS OF GERRYMANDERING REVEALED BY STATEWIDE VOTE COUNTS: Most of the proposed districts lean Republican, similar to the current makeup of the General Assembly, where Republicans hold supermajorities in both the state House and Senate. Lawmakers drew new districts after courts ruled that the current maps, drawn in 2011, are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. President Donald Trump would have won 33 of the 50 proposed Senate districts and 76 of the 120 proposed House districts. Statewide last year, Republican nominee Trump won 49.9 percent of the vote to 46.1 percent for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, would have won 18 of the 50 Senate districts and 47 of the 120 House districts. Cooper narrowly unseated Republican Pat McCrory last year, 49 percent to 48.9 percent statewide.

FORMER DURHAM BOARD OF ELECTIONS WORKER INDICTED FOR ACTIONS DURING 2016 PRIMARY: Robert Rawlings, 59, of Cary, was indicted by a Durham County grand jury on a felony obstruction of justice charge and a misdemeanor charge of failure to discharge his official duties. Calls to his home were not answered. The Durham County elections board said in a report last fall that more than 1,000 provisional ballots were thought to have been mishandled during the March 2016 primary election, but the miscount didn’t affect the primary’s outcome. The county reported to the state elections board last year that some votes were counted twice and election officials presented the vote count as true when it was wrong. State elections board officials said Monday Rawling’s actions didn’t affect any races and there was no evidence he altered ballot counts to support a particular political party or candidate.

TRUMP BREAKS ANOTHER PROMISE WITH AFGHANISTAN WAR FEVER: Reversing his past calls for a speedy exit, President Donald Trump recommitted the United States to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, declaring U.S. troops must "fight to win." He pointedly declined to disclose how many more troops will be dispatched to wage America's longest war. Before becoming a candidate, Trump had ardently argued for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the war a massive waste of U.S. "blood and treasure" and declaring on Twitter, "Let's get out!" Seven months into his presidency, he said Monday night that though his "original instinct was to pull out," he'd since determined that approach could create a vacuum that terrorists including al-Qaida and the Islamic State would "instantly fill."

CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS READY TO IMPEACH TRUMP AFTER CHARLOTTESVILLE COMMENTS: The caucus' chairman Monday urged cancellation of next month’s highly-anticipated meeting between White House officials and leaders of the nation’s historically black colleges. And he plans to have the 49-member caucus meet when Congress returns in two weeks to discuss whether to back Democratic-led efforts to impeach Trump. “You can make an argument based on pure competency and fitness to serve, and that’s the conversation the caucus will have,” Richmond told reporters in a conference call Monday. The caucus includes 46 House Democrats, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Republican Rep. Mia Love of Utah. “Am I concerned about high crimes and misdemeanors?” Richmond asked. “Absolutely. Am I concerned about this president’s fitness to serve? Absolutely.”