An influential Republican operative has a secret. Or maybe he doesn’t. Or maybe he’s just confused. 

Either way, Dallas Woodhouse, the former executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, included a scoop about state redistricting plans inside a 750-word story he penned for the Carolina Journal, a right-leaning publication.

The scoop?

Carolina Journal has learned that GOP redistricting leaders will consider approving a new map designed to elect 10 Republicans and four Democrats beginning in 2022.

A GOP plan to gerrymander the state’s soon-to-be 14 congressional districts is news considering Woodhouse’s network of friends inside North Carolina’s conservative circles. Currently, the state’s 13-member House delegation features eight Republicans and five Democrats, but the state has earned another House seat thanks to population growth reflected in the 2020 census.    

But wait. Maybe the Journal didn’t learn this after all. 

Woodhouse’s paragraph was deleted shortly after the story published and was edited to something a little more … non-insidery. The edited version reads:

In examining the early data it appears to Carolina Journal, and this is speculation, that the best-case scenario for Democrats would be a 9-5 GOP map that leaves all Democrat incumbents with blue-leaning districts, and the GOP protecting all eight of its member districts, while drawing a GOP-friendly 14th seat. The worst case would be a new map in which voters would be likely to select 10 GOP members and four Democrats to represent the state.

An editor’s note, appearing at the top of the story, says the article was edited but does little to clarify how: “This story has been updated from its original posting to reflect that the information provided is based on data research and the writer’s analysis.”

The original version of the story, which is accessible via the Internet Archive, was filed as a “CJ Exclusive.” That’s gone, too. Instead, the edited version appears in the “The Woodshed,” a section dedicated to Woodhouse’s writings. 

Woodhouse’s gaffe continues a long line of state conservatives letting slip their intention to gerrymander voting districts to keep or gain power in Congress and the statehouse.

Sadly, the act of gerrymandering—or drawing districts to spread out the number of voters of the minority party across many districts or stuffing them all into one or two districts to dilute their impact—is perfectly legal in North Carolina when it’s done for purely political reasons. Gerrymandering to dilute the voting power of people based on their race, however, violates federal law. 

Bills sponsored by Democrats in the General Assembly are seeking to strip lawmakers of the power to partisan gerrymander through the creation of an independent redistricting commission—although the strategy is a longshot with Republicans controlling both chambers.

Under House Bill 437, or the Fair Maps Act, a 15-member commission comprised of an equal number of Democrats, Republicans, and independents would hold public hearings to allow the public to participate in the drawing of district lines, and the legislature would have no say in the finalized map.  

With no Republican sponsors, however, the bill is likely permanently stalled in the House Rules Committee, opening up the possibility of more political shenanigans once the mapmaking process begins ahead of the 2022 midterms. 

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