Scattered, covered & smothered! — Screwy new districts prompt more candidate explaining, than campaigning!
EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA – Voters should be forgiven if the early days of this year’s election season resemble the often inscrutable refrain barked by waitresses inside the 24 / 7 environs of the popular Waffle House restaurant chain.
Press releases issued by both incumbents and challengers for a slew of recently redrawn state legislative seats suggest that increased voter apathy – rather than voter inclusion – might be the unintended consequence of districts that bear little or no resemblance to those used two years ago in the November 2016 elections.
Republican Michael Speciale is a conservative incumbent. If reelected, he will represent a much, much smaller geographic footprint – something the candidate attempts to describe in an e-mail received by many media outlets:
Michael Speciale declared his candidacy today to run for reelection to the North Carolina House of Representatives seat for District 3. District 3 covers Craven County from New Bern east through the remainder of the county.
Speciale currently serves as the NC House Representative for District 3 but the District currently consists of the southern portion of Beaufort County (including most of the City of Washington), a portion of Craven County, and all of Pamlico County.
The District 3 map changed as a result of court ordered redistricting. Under the new map, Pamlico County will be in District 6 and Craven County west of New Bern and all of Beaufort County will be in District 79, which will have no incumbent running.
Confusing? You bet it is! Those shout-outs of orders at Waffle House have suddenly become more understandable!
Here’s another example likely to turn off voters – District 79 !!! It’s brand new! That’s correct – nonexistent, until court-ordered redistricting came along.
Perhaps that’s good? At least there’s no incumbent advantage, which almost every election expert criticizes. Here is the wording from another press release – this one from a conservative Republican, Keith Kidwell, who hopes to become the first politician ever elected to the District 79 seat:
Conservative tax accountant and Beaufort County GOP chair Keith Kidwell formalized his candidacy today for the newly created 79th House District that includes all of Beaufort County and upper Craven County. Joining Kidwell at the news conference were Beaufort County State Senator Bill Cook, who’s serving as Kidwell’s campaign chair and Aurora Mayor Clif Williams, campaign Vice Chair.
(Related note: State Sen. Bill Cook chose not to run for reelection in 2018. The reason? His existing district was reworked, redesigned, and scrambled to the extent that even Santa Claus would have a tough time winning!)
For most rank-and-file voters, the phrase Kidwell uses: ‘upper Craven County’ is more than a bit fuzzy. Where exactly does that line fall? But, please don’t blame Kidwell. Candidates have enough to do campaign-wise.
Trust me. Instead of setting forth the exact metes and bounds new legislative District 79, Kidwell would much prefer to win votes by using valuable space in his press release to lambaste the opposition:
“I’m running to stand up for Beaufort and Craven County taxpayers against Roy Cooper’s Radical Far-Left Agenda,” Kidwell said.
Please, voters! Don’t despair. Cast your ballot this year, no matter how confusing the entire process has become! And the next time you eat at a nearby Waffle House, ask your waitress how to call out your breakfast order. That should be a cakewalk!