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New maps mean GOP incumbents will face each other for two WNC General Assembly seats

New district maps for this year’s election will pit incumbent Republicans against each other for two Western North Carolina General Assembly seats.

Redrawing General Assembly districts follows a different path than Congressional seats according to Western Carolina University political scientist Dr. Chris Cooper. “For the state senate and the state house, they’re bound by this rule called the Stevenson clustering rule," Cooper says. "It’s kind of complicated, but it essentially says that certain counties have to hang together because of population.”

For 2022, Senate District 47 hangs plenty of counties together along North Carolina’s borders with Tennessee and Virginia – seven whole counties and parts of two others, including eastern Haywood. The 47th now runs from the town of Canton to well east and north of the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone more than two hours away. The Republican primary this year will serve as the de facto election as no Democrats running. Ralph Hise currently represents the 47th, and the is number two Republican in the senate. He’ll face Deanna Ballard, a former member of the George W. Bush administration who currently represents the 45th district.

“It would have been very, very difficult given the geography of the state and where Western North Carolina sits – and what the new clusters are – it would have been very difficult, close to impossible, to not draw those lines without Hise and Ballard being double bunked,” Cooper says.

Incumbent Republicans also face each further south in the 113th House District, which now consists of Polk County plus parts of three of its neighbors, Henderson, McDowell, and Rutherford. Jake Johnson is the 113th incumbent, who must face David Rogers, who represents the 112th. No Democrats are running there either.

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.
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