Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How far east is Eastern N.C.?

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Rudyard Kipling wrote in "The Ballad of East and West." But Rudyard Kipling never had to write about the N.C. General Assembly, as far as I know. And readers let me know what they thought the other day about Sunday’s column about how politicians from Eastern North Carolina may have dominated the executive branch and the Senate chamber in the legislature branch, but not the House – not in a long time, anyhow.
Here’s what a Piedmont businessman wrote:
“Jack, you can easily make the case that the East has not ‘controlled’ the House but it seems a stretch to say the House has been an urban Piedmont stronghold. Nothing remotely urban personally about (Speaker Joe) Hackney, (former Co-Speaker Richard) Morgan, and (former Speaker Harold) Brubaker. I hear you but respectfully differ. If not for (former Speaker Jim) Black, who is not so urban either, the East would likely have run the House. ... in my mind the East is the Triangle East, which takes in (Former Speaker Dan) Blue, particularly with his support of the African-American caucus, strong in the East. ... though I would think of (Rep. Mickey) Michaux as Piedmont and urban, difficult to draw these lines isn’t it?”
And this came from a Triangle policy analyst:
“No disagreement here.
“But could it be simply arithmetic? Smaller districts mirror higher population density more effectively. Even more so since this set of districts, drawn under an urban speaker, are all single member.”
Betts: None?
Analyst: “The current configuration has no multi-member districts.
“In the last one hundred years, we have seen population shift from rural to ‘urban’ areas in NC. Non-rural voters are now a majority of the electorate. If we were a direct democracy, where every voter voted on every legislative issue, the ‘urbans’ would win all the time.
“Larger districts, such as the congressional or state Senate, lessen the influence of the majority ‘urban’ voters because the office holders have enough rural voters to temper their positions. (Interesting House/Senate check & balance?)
“Alternatively: House districts are small enough to reflect the true split in population.
“For example, if you overlay the legislative district maps of Wake County – state Senate Districts look somewhat like pie pieces with Raleigh in the center; while the state House districts look like concentric rings of raisins on the pie....”
And this came in from a friendly fellow who describes himself, at least partly jokingly, I think, as a Republican troglodyte:
“Jack, I’m an old Durham skin - - & my recall is Wake is east, as in coastal plain ;-) Not that it amounts to a hill of peas ;-)”
Betts: I used to have that same view -- but I was from Greensboro, and Durham was East.
Trog: “So you really remember mountains, Piedmont, coastal plain ;-) In Durham we used to look down on little Raleigh: we had nearly twice the population, too many yankees (with their funny cars, eg., MGs, Cords, Jags). But no museums. Or milk shakes to compare with those at Hayes Barton Pharmacy!”

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