Cunningham: State GOP lawmakers ‘placing thumb on scale’ through gerrymandered maps

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 10:34 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 11:33 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Joe Cunningham, who served a single term in the U.S. House representing the state’s First Congressional District, accused state Republican lawmakers of trying to steal elections through the redistricting process.

“The most blatant example of GOP gerrymandering in 2022 is South Carolina’s First Congressional District,” Cunningham, who hopes to unseat Gov. Henry McMaster in November, said.

Cunningham said lawmakers want to redraw lines to split West Ashley and other portions of Charleston County and move them from the First Congressional District into the Sixth Congressional District.

Doing so, Cunningham claimed, would give Republicans a 17-point advantage in the First Congressional District. He claimed South Carolina Republicans have “traditionally divided people along racial boundaries and on partisan boundaries only to benefit themselves.”

“So why are Columbia politicians trying to rip us apart? Why are they trying to split up Charleston County? I’ll tell you why. Because it dilutes our voices,” he said. “Charleston will be an extremely, an extremely powerful voting bloc if we’re left together. And that scares the hell out of law politicians both in Columbia and in Washington, D.C.”

Cunningham, a Democrat, represented the state’s First Congressional District for a single term before being defeated by Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, who currently holds that office. Democrat Rep. Jim Clyburn has represented the Sixth Congressional District since 1993.

“I urge everyone to your state senator and urged him to pass a fair map that keeps Charleston together and preserves the first district’s natural competitiveness,” he said. “South Carolina Republicans have placed their thumb on the scale by gerrymandering their majorities if they want to win elections, they should do it the right way: By advocating for their ideas and their visions to voters. If you want a majority so bad, go out there and earn it. You’ll win on your policy proposals if you have any. But don’t cheat and don’t steal.”

He spoke out in favor of the Senate Amendment 2 map, also dubbed the “whole county map.”

“That makes Charleston County whole and keeps the coastal Lowcountry counties like Charleston and Beaufort in the same district,” he said. “This new map proves that a fair map isn’t just possible to draw. It’s pretty damn easy.”

Every 10 years, after the U.S. Census is taken, lawmakers redraw the district lines that control which representative will represent a certain part of the state.

Over the past 10 years, South Carolina has grown by about 500,000 people. The parts of the state that grew the most were the suburbs to the south of Charlotte and cities along the coast.

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