‘It’s Racially Gerrymandered’: Long-Time Democrat Blames New District Map For Retirement

Screenshot via YouTube/ Congressman G. K. Butterfield, NC-01

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Citing his state’s recently-finalized district map, Democratic North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the 117th Congress.

“The map that was recently enacted by the legislature is a partisan map,” he said in a video posted to YouTube. “It’s racially gerrymandered. It will disadvantage African American communities all across the First Congressional District. I am disappointed, terribly disappointed with the Republican majority legislature for again gerrymandering our state’s congressional districts and putting their party politics over the best interests of North Carolinians.”

As a result of the newly-drawn map, Butterfield said, he was forced to “make the difficult decision that [he] will not seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Butterfield expressed hope that the newly-drawn maps would be struck down by a court as a violation of the Voting Rights Act. In 2018, a state court struck down the maps drawn by the North Carolina legislature after the 2010 census.

The newest map, passed in early November, creates 10 safe Republican seats, three safe Democratic seats, and one toss-up district. The new First District has a one point Democrat advantage. Butterfield’s old district was Democrat +17. (RELATED: An Inside Look At The Behind The Scenes Fight To Set The 2022 Election)

As a result of the newly-drawn map and the strong performances of Republican candidates in early November elections, the National Republican Congressional Committee added Butterfield to its list of targeted Democratic incumbents for the 2022 midterms.

First elected to his Elizabeth City-centered district in a 2004 special election, Butterfield served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2015-2017. Before entering Congress, he served as a civil rights attorney and state Supreme Court judge.

Butterfield is the 15th House Democrat to announce his retirement this cycle, and the second from North Carolina. Democratic North Carolina Rep. David Price announced in October that he would leave Congress after the current term.

“I am proud of my work in Congress on behalf of my constituents,” Butterfield added. “And I know that my life’s work of fighting for greater fairness and equity will not cease, even after the close of the 117th Congress.”