The legislature recently held a public hearing on a new redistricting plan it is developing, but it was hard to see it as anything more than a dog-and-pony show. While the General Assembly will ultimately vote on the new court-ordered plan, the real work has actually been outsourced to Washington, D.C. More precisely, the job has been given to the national Republican Party’s redistricting top gun – Tom Hofeller, the same person who designed the state’s heavily gerrymandered political maps in 2011.
Hofeller is by most accounts a nice guy – a 74-year old grandfatherly-looking computer geek, who sings tenor in his church choir, is a big reader, and is a self-described moderate Republican. (That is according to a 2012 profile by Robert Draper in The Atlantic.)
But the former Californian, who resides in the D.C. suburbs of Alexandria, Virginia, knows little about North Carolina’s political culture or history, even as he carves up the state legislative and congressional districts like the butcher at the local Harris Teeter supermarket. As far as I know, he doesn’t even own a vacation home here even as he decides who our legislators and members of Congress are.
At least he knows where Raleigh-Durham International Airport is located, having made 10 trips to Raleigh to help draw the districts after the 2010 census, according to court documents.