Why this North Carolina Democrat is preparing to run for a congressional district that doesn't exist
On Friday, Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel set up an exploratory committee with the FEC for a potential run in North Carolina’s “House District 00,” a congressional district that does not exist.
Nickel, though, told North Carolina Policy Watch that he was preparing for the possibility that the upcoming round of redistricting would create a new Raleigh-area seat he could campaign for. Nickel also said that he had “no plans at all to run” against his fellow Democrats, Rep. David Price or Rep.-elect Deborah Ross, adding, “My plan is to run for re-election to the state Senate, but if there’s an open seat [for Congress] we’ll strongly consider it.”
Nickel is the first politician we’ve seen to kick off a 2022 run for a Schrödinger’s Seat, a term we coined nearly a decade ago at the Swing State Project to refer to a constituency that may or may not come into being after redistricting but that candidates are nonetheless eyeing. He won’t be the last, though: Running for the House is a very expensive and time consuming process, and most viable candidates need to get started well before they even know if they’ll have a winnable district to run for.
Nickel, for his part, said of the upcoming map, “There’s been a ton of growth in western Wake County, and wouldn’t it make sense to put a new seat in the place where there’s been the most growth?” He may be right, but it won’t be up to him. Republicans maintained their iron grip on both chambers of the North Carolina legislature this month, and because state law doesn’t give the governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, a veto over redistricting, the only potential constraint on GOP mapmakers is the Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court.