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'What choice would enable me to make the greatest impact' | Rep. Madison Cawthorn running for newly-redrawn 13th congressional district

The new 13th district includes the western part of Mecklenburg County, and all of Gaston, Cleveland and Burke Counties.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-11) confirmed Thursday he would be running for North Carolina's newly-redrawn 13th congressional district this year, saying it is a "move to take more ground for constitutional conservatism" and he wants to represent North Carolina as a whole. 

"My house is almost directly on the line of separation for the 13th and 14th congressional districts, and now half the counties in the new district are counties I currently represent," Cawthorn said in a statement posted to Twitter. "My people are split, and I am forced to make a very difficult decision. Ultimately, I have to answer this question: 'What choice would enable me to make the greatest impact on the affairs of our state and our nation?'"

Cawthorn said he consulted family and constituents before ultimately deciding to run for the 13th congressional district. 

The North Carolina General Assembly redrew the congressional map after the state received one more House seat, bringing the state's total to 14 congressional seats.

The new 13th district includes the western part of Mecklenburg County, and all of Gaston, Cleveland and Burke counties.

RELATED: Many people unhappy with South Carolina lawmakers' redistricting plan

"It's packing Democratic-leaning voters in western Mecklenburg County in with lots of rural Republicans in the counties west of Charlotte," Eric Heberlig, a UNC Charlotte political science professor, said. "Many people look at the map and say, 'Oh. it was drawn to help House Speaker Tim Moore run in an open district.'"

Moore was originally reportedly exploring a potential run as well. Thursday evening, Moore confirmed he would instead seek re-election as Speaker. 

"I will continue to fight for my constituents, and I will work for what the state needs now- a balanced budget that cuts taxes and invests in our critical needs during these challenging times," Moore said, in part, in a statement posted to Twitter.

The new congressional map shrank Rep. Alma Adams' district to only cover the city of Charlotte.

Rep. Dan Bishop's new district won't include as much of South Charlotte, which, Heberlig said, has leaned more politically to the left.

Groups have already filed lawsuits accusing the General Assembly of heavily gerrymandering the maps in favor of Republicans.

Michael Bitzer, a Catawba College political science professor, cited the last few years when courts found state Republican leaders gerrymandered districts in their favor.

"I'm not sure that they necessarily took the requirements from the court from 2019," Bitzer said. "They went and pushed the envelope to benefit them in terms of the partisan dynamics."

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Heberlig added, "I like to joke that we have a permanent seat license at the U.S. Supreme Court for these types of cases."

If history is any indicator, Bitzer said the congressional map will likely be redrawn in the middle of the decade.

"For the average voter, they're not paying a whole lot of attention to these kinds of dynamics until it gets to election time, and then they said, 'You know, I voted for [this congressman] last time. Now, I'm not voting for him, what gives?'" Bitzer said. "That is, unfortunately, part of the circumstances and consequences of redistricting."

Contact Brandon Golder at bgoldner@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.  

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