Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, Person, one of 10 state senators drawn into the same district as another sitting senator under the redistricting proposal Republicans released Tuesday, says she would seek to hold onto her seat, but running against a colleague would be “a very difficult situation.”
The 23rd district, which she now represents, was redrawn to include Chatham instead of Person County. That means Kinnaird, serving her eighth two-year term, and Sen. Bob Atwater, D-Chatham, Durham, Lee, in his fourth term, would be forced to square off.
“Bob is a very good senator in Chatham County and running against a friend and fellow senator is very disappointing to me,” she said. “It’s a stressful situation and we certainly are not looking forward to it.”
The situation is not new for Kinnaird who defeated colleague Howard Lee in 2002 when their districts were merged. She won a hard-fought, but respectful primary campaign by just 119 votes.
But she’s hopeful that the proposed maps won’t hold up to legal challenges. The NAACP and the Alliance for Fair Redistricting and Minority Voting Rights has raised objections throughout the process. Last week, N.C. NAACP President the Rev. William Barber promised to see legislators in court. Even without a lawsuit, redistricting proposals must pass a review of the U.S. Department of Justice to make sure lines adhere to the Voting Rights Act.
“I think a general consensus is that it is re-segregating North Carolina, They’ve packed so many African Americans into the districts and of course the result is that it takes Democrats out of the rest of the state districts, which of course that guarantees republican control,” Kinnaird says.
“I believe this will be litigated. It could be a couple of years before it’s solved. We could even run in our current districts. It’s lots of turmoil, of course that’s the first thing, and I think it will be a waiting game to see what the challenges are and how successful they are.”