North Carolina’s Triangle will have a louder voice in next U.S. Congress


McClatchy Newspapers

When the new Congress convenes in January, the Triangle region will have double the political firepower it had this year.

Because of redistricting, the area’s three-member delegation in the House of Representatives will grow to six, turning the congressional map into even more of an erratic patchwork.

Durham, for example, will be split among congressional seats.

“In some instances, it helps to have more members rather than fewer with a stake in what you’re working on,” said Democratic Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill. “But there clearly are also challenges with coordination and fragmentation. I don’t know any way you could construe splitting Durham into four districts to be a positive thing.”

The Triangle, which encompasses Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, will be split among three Republicans and three Democrats. That might translate into more clout in the nation’s capital on regional issues involving cities, rural areas, higher education, transportation and economic growth.

Durham, for example, faces urban issues of crime and sprawl, but it’s also a university town with high-tech business.

The nation’s largest cities have six or more members of Congress, but it’s quite unusual to find that many in a region such as the Triangle with 2 million residents, said Thomas Eamon, an associate professor of political science at East Carolina University and the author of an upcoming book on North Carolina politics.

Andrew Taylor, a professor of political science at North Carolina State University, said having more people in the House for issues involving federal funding might be helpful. But he said it would take time for all six to learn about their new constituencies.

He said the new districts “don’t have any kind of regional identity. And so it may take them a while to really get a handle on it.”

The new Republican-drawn districts mean that Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, from Dunn, will represent part of Wake County, as will Rep.-elect George Holding, a Republican from Raleigh.

Rep. Howard Coble, a Republican from Greensboro who’s served in Congress for nearly 30 years, picked up parts of northern Durham and Orange counties. A staffer will visit the counties one day a week, but the location for part-time office space hasn’t been determined, said Coble Chief of Staff Ed McDonald.

The Democrats in the region will be Price; Mike McIntyre of Lumberton, whose new district will take in part of Johnston County; and G.K. Butterfield of Wilson, whose seat will now include some of Price’s old territory in Durham County, where he plans to open an office.

“It’s making me work harder, for sure,” he said. But he said he knew the area well, having earned his undergraduate and law school degrees at North Carolina Central University in Durham.

Butterfield said it was impossible to say whether more would get done for the region. He said Price “has a long-standing commitment to Durham County. I’m sure he’ll give it his all, and I’m going to do the same.”

Price, who was a political science and public policy professor at Duke University before he was first elected to Congress in 1986, said the new arrangement had its challenges but that he hoped it would have some opportunities as well. Usually, local matters that members of Congress work on don’t become partisan issues, he said.

Email:; Twitter: @reneeschoof

Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  • Oregon Senate candidates push dueling narratives

    Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley wants to talk about taxes and the middle class. His Republican rival, Monica Wehby, would love to talk about the federal health care law.

This April 29, 2005 file photo shows Rep. Troy Woodruff,  R-Vincennes in Indianapolis.  Woodruff, who's faced an ethics investigation of land purchases that benefited his family,  is leaving the Indiana Department of Transportation department.   Woodruff sent an email to agency employees on Wednesday, July 30, 2014,  saying that he would step down Thursday.   (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Charlie Nye)  NO SALES

    Indiana ethics law faulted after official cleared

    Troy Woodruff knew his family's sale of nearly 3 acres of prime land near an Indiana highway project he oversaw as a top state transportation official would raise eyebrows. He did not disclose the sale even though the agency's ethics director recommended he do so.

  • Dem chair to US House nominee: he should withdraw

    The head of Mississippi's Democratic Party says he has advised the party's nominee to pull out of the 1st District congressional race because exaggeration of his military service — calling himself a "Green Beret veteran of Desert Storm" when he was a food service worker at Fort Bragg during the 1991 campaign in Iraq — has cost him support.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category