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What’s worse: Smith Avenue extension or new congressional maps?

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

If there’s one thing people hate more than the complex labyrinth of wasted stimulus money known as the Smith Avenue extension project, it’s the new congressional districts recently adopted in the General Assembly.

Just as the new route traversing Shallotte is a dismal failure lacking any rhyme or reason, so are the new congressional districts, or at least the 7th Congressional District, where we live.

Everybody hates the new 7th District. It was sliced and diced to span from the coast to the outskirts of Raleigh.

According to the sign on I-40, it’s 120 miles from the boundaries of Wilmington to just outside Raleigh city limits.

The district also stretches down Brunswick County’s coastline, and some of Pender County’s coast, but not the majority of Pender County. Most of Robeson County was also drawn out of the district.

Little New Hanover County just across the river from us had a chunk of its district removed from the 7th District.

People have been very vocal about the new district—they hate it.

Well, everybody but one person hates it—the presumptive candidate who benefits from being drawn into the district.

In this case, that’s state Sen. David Rouzer, a Johnston County Republican from the outskirts of Raleigh.

According to the politicos out there, he’s a real up-and-comer in the Republican Party. It’s almost as if he were hand-selected to run by the powers that be in Raleigh—the same powers that be that, coincidentally, have already endorsed Rouzer.

It’s the only reasonable explanation, because, otherwise, this district makes no sense.

I don’t care what they have to say for themselves, there’s no defense for the new lines, other than drawing a candidate into the district.  

Not only did they draw Rouzer in, but they also drew eight-term Democrat incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre out.

Now, trust me, I do not believe McIntyre has any right to the seat other than having been elected by the people to represent them.

It’s the 7th District seat, not his seat.

But come on, drawing the Democrat incumbent, who handily defeated a Republican candidate in the last election, in which almost every GOP candidate on the ballot won, right out of the district in which he continues to win?

That’s nothing more than political shenanigans and it stinks.

Whatever your feeling about McIntyre, the man continues to win, so he must be doing something the people like.

Even Ilario Pantano, the 2010 Republican nominee defeated by McIntyre, argued with the district lines as drawn. He acknowledged a GOP candidate stands a better chance in the new district, but argued it wasn’t best for the people.

He’s right.

For years, Republicans have kicked and screamed, accusing the Democrat-controlled General Assembly of gerrymandering districts and drawing lines for political gain.

Well, guess what? Republicans just did the same thing.

They promised an open and transparent process that would be based upon the needs of the constituents.

They had an opportunity to lead by example. They failed.

It’s a shame, too, because other than that I thought they did a great job in the General Assembly this session. They were efficient and effective and, aside from failing to override the voter ID veto, really had a great legislative session.

Now this?

I really don’t know what’s worse: the Smith Avenue extension project or the new congressional maps.

One’s the Democrats’ doing, the other’s the Republicans’ work.

It seems to me neither was as “shovel ready” as they thought.