Committee cuts Cook

Published 1:11 am Thursday, July 28, 2011

Legislative leaders on the state House redistricting committee basically cut in two the district held by state Rep. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort.

Cook, a member of the House redistricting committee, couldn’t prevent fellow committee members from dividing his home county, despite his advocacy for keeping Beaufort County whole in one state House territory.

This map shows the proposed state House District 6 drawn by the House’s redistricting panel. (Map courtesy of N.C. General Assembly website)

It appeared the latest map would place most of Beaufort County north of the Pamlico River in a territory with Hyde, Dare and Washington counties. This would constitute a newly configured House District 6.

Portions of the county south of the river would be tucked into a district represented by Rep. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico.

The map would split the city of Washington between these two districts.

In a telephone interview from his Raleigh office, Cook said his district was redrawn to reward Rep. Tim Spear, D-Washington, for voting with the Republican majority to override Gov. Beverly Perdue’s vetoes of GOP-pushed legislation.

Spear was one of five House Democrats who voted with Republicans to override Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto of the two-year state budget.

Spear couldn’t be reached for comment immediately.

The map was headed for a vote on the House floor Wednesday evening, Cook said.

Cook said he would vote against the outlines, but he added it wouldn’t make much difference.

“It’s a done deal,” he said late Wednesday afternoon. “I talked to the speaker (Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg). Rep. Spear made a deal with them. He would vote with the majority in passing several of the overrides of the governor’s veto in return for a jurisdiction or a district that splits Beaufort County and picks up Hyde and Dare and Washington (counties).”

Cook said his home precinct of Gilead would remain in the new district. Gilead is a majority-Republican precinct.

“I do not see it as a betrayal,” Cook said in response to a question. “I just see it as a trick by a liberal Democrat who’s trying to hurt the people of Beaufort County. He doesn’t care. If I didn’t care about the people in Beaufort County, I could have had this kind of district before, but I chose not to because I heard the people loud and clear. They wanted to keep Beaufort (County) whole.”

In an earlier map, Beaufort County already was joined with Washington County in a freshly drawn House district, putting Cook in direct competition with Spear.

Under the latest map, Cook still would go head to head with Spear, but in a district that appears more favorable to a Democratic candidate, sources indicated.

In an interview early this month, Cook said he could defeat Spear in next year’s general election.

“If he stays there, I think I can beat him,” Cook said at the time. “I think there’s a more conservative group of people out there than there would have been in my old district.”

Greg Dority is chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party.

“We’re very disappointed with the new state House map released today,” Dority said. “It is unconscionable that Beaufort County would be split in this manner.”

Surry Everett is chairman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party.

“It’s very surprising,” Everett said of the district blueprint.