U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a longtime Congressman from North Carolina who presides over a district that has been held by a Black representative for nearly the last 30 years, has decided against seeking re-election after Republican state lawmakers redrew congressional districts that put Democrats at a decided disadvantage.
That’s one way to put it.
But Butterfield, in announcing his pending retirement from Congress after an 18-year-run representing the state’s 1st Congressional District, accurately summed it up a bit differently when he cited a “racially gerrymandered” redrawn congressional map as one of the reasons he’s decided to step down. He said the redistricting will especially hurt his Black constituents.
As one of only two Black members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation, the 74-year-old who was first elected to Congress following a special election in 2004 announced his retirement in a video released Thursday that spoke in no uncertain terms about why he will not be on the ballot in next year’s crucial midterm elections.
“The map that was recently enacted by the legislature is a partisan map. It’s racially gerrymandered, [and] it will disadvantage African American communities all across the 1st Congressional District,” Butterfield, who is a former leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in the video. “I am disappointed, terribly disappointed, with the Republican majority legislature for again gerrymandering our state’s congressional districts and putting their party politics over the best interests of North Carolinians.”
The North Carolina General Assembly approved the redrawn districts earlier this month in a move that was widely anticipated to adversely affect the state’s Black and brown politicians most, U.S. Rep. Alma S. Adams, North Carolina’s only other Black Congressperson, released a statement reminding people about Butterfield’s significant achievements for the Tar Heel State while serving in Congress.
“As a civil rights lawyer, judge, and former member of the North Carolina Supreme Court, G. K. advanced the cause of voting rights in our state,” Adams said in a statement emailed to NewsOne on Thursday. “In Congress, he helped write the transformative Affordable Care Act as a member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and he has always been a staunch supporter of the rights of women, LGBTQ Americans, and minority groups. As a proud NC Central University Eagle, both as an undergraduate and as a Legal Eagle, G. K. has always supported our work to support and invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”
As of Thursday, Butterfield was the 15th Democratic Congressman who had announced their retirement in the wake of Republican-led state legislatures redrawing congressional district maps in partisan moves strategically designed to guarantee the GOP regains the majority in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. It is part of a grander effort to further undermine President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, which has already been derailed several times because of Senate Republicans’ abuse of the filibuster.
Corey Wiggins, the executive director of the Mississippi NAACP, recently penned an op-ed for NewsOne underscoring the political and social significance of Republicans are strong-arming their way into power ahead of the crucial 2022 midterm elections.
“Of all the issues facing our communities, redistricting is among the most important,” Wiggins wrote.