Nov 20, 2023 - News

NCGOP accuses Democratic senator of violating the constitution

Illustration of the state of North Carolina with moving districts inside it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

North Carolina Republicans are calling for Democratic state Sen. Lisa Grafstein to resign, after she moved districts in anticipation of next year's election.

Context: The legislature enacted new, Republican-drawn political maps last month that drew Grafstein into the same Senate district as fellow Democratic state Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, which would've forced them to face off in the March primary.

  • Instead, Grafstein recently moved to a new, more competitive district in southern Wake County so she could run in an open seat without challenging an incumbent.

What's happening: Republicans called attention to her move last week, saying Grafstein is violating the constitution by not living in the district she currently represents.

The big picture: Questions of where state legislative candidates live come up in every election cycle. Political parties often file residency challenges against candidates of the opposite party in hopes of disqualifying them from running for office.

  • Just last year, Republicans sought to prove state Senate candidate Valerie Jordan lived in Raleigh, not in Warren County, where she was registered to vote. Republicans failed in their effort to disqualify her, but she lost the election.

Zoom in: There's no question, however, that Grafstein lives in the district she plans to run in next year.

  • Instead, Republicans have highlighted she no longer serves the constituents she was elected to represent.

Of note: Grafstein is the only openly LGBTQ member of the state Senate, and is one of the only Jewish members of the legislature.

  • "With total dedication Sen Grafstein uproots her home, moves a few miles to run in a new senate district in 2024," Democratic state Rep. Marcia Morey said in a post on X this week.
  • "Now the GOP cries foul over their own plan that backfired. N.C. needs Lisa Grafstein in the NC Senate."

Be smart: It's not uncommon for members of the same party to be double bunked in legislative redraws.

  • Instead of running the political risk of facing a long-serving member of the senate in next year's primary, Grafstein has opted to run to represent a different part of Wake County.
Data: N.C. Board of Elections, N.C. General Assembly; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

By the numbers: Under the 2022 maps, Grafstein lived in Senate District 13, in northern Wake. Under this year's map, had she not moved, she would've lived in a district that included parts of northeast Raleigh and around the city center.

  • Now, she's running to represent southern Wake County, including Fuquay-Varina.

What they're saying: Grafstein does not plan to resign as Republicans have called for her to do, saying their request was "weak and undemocratic" and accusing them of trying to "rig the legislature" to enact their "extreme agenda," WRAL reported.

  • "Their cynical tactics are reprehensible and undemocratic," Grafstein said in a statement, according to WRAL. "I look forward to continuing to fight for our public schools, our freedom to control our own bodies, and the ability of hardworking North Carolinians to take care of their families."

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