by Kirk Ross
When redistricting plans shifted his Raleigh residence into the 4th Congressional District, Congressman Brad Miller, who represents the state’s 13th Congressional District, said he did not envision himself getting into a primary fight with Democratic colleague, David Price of Chapel Hill.
But after taking a hard look at the composition of the new 4th, Miller says he is now strongly considering running for the 4th if the current maps hold. The five-term congressman said neither he nor Price has a right to claim the new district outright. The maps must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“David now represents 33 percent [of the new 4th]. I represent 31,” Miller said, adding that much of the remaining portion includes his hometown of Fayetteville. “This district is more of a jump ball,” he said.
Miller said since the two men share a number of supporters and have a long history of working together, he want to see a “pause” before both sides crank up campaigns, especially since the lines are still tentative.
Price, meanwhile has shown no inclination to pause. He said early on that despite his objections to the Republican-driven redistricting plans, he will seek re-election to the newly redrawn 4th, which stretches from Burlington to Fayetteville. He underscored that in an Aug. 1 email to supporters, which closed with this statement:
“Although there are many unknowns, I want to provide certainty about one thing:my continued commitment to serving the people of the Fourth District.Whatever shape the Fourth District may take, I will stand for re-election, and I will run the kind of grass roots, issues-oriented campaign that you expect from me.”
Miller said he and Price have had a private conversation about the matter but it ended “without resolution.”
Asked about the potential for a 2012 primary, Price’s staff cited the Aug. 1 email. Price, who is seeking his 12th term, has told several news outlets that he intends to run in the 4th.
Miller said he would like to continue to serve in Congress; he wants to continue to push for financial reforms and consumer protections.
“I think my voice would be missed,” he said.
Miller stressed that the districts as drawn are unacceptable. While he expected Republicans to draw more compact Democratic districts around the Triangle, those passed by the General Assembly went much farther than he thought they would.
“The first priority for all of us in the delegation is to fight the map,” Miller says.
While Miller believes there is strong merit to the arguments against the GOP redistricting plan, it is uncertain how actions by the courts or Department of Justice will affect the districts and the next election. Initial responses to the maps may not be known until the end of the year, he says. The Justice Department has a range of remedies, including ordering the court to draw new maps or instructing the Legislature to redraw them.
This could delay the primary date. In 2002, a redistricting fight delayed the May 7 primaries until Sept. 8.
Meanwhile, Miller has been calling supporters in the new 4th, including friends and family in Fayetteville.
Miller says the uncertainty over the race is also likely to affect fundraising since he and Price share many supporters. He says he’s been upfront with donors this cycle that he may run in a different district.
Campaign reports show that as of June 30 Miller has $126,877 in cash on hand and Price has $71,581.