RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A quarter of the North Carolinians from the two main parties who are running for Congress can’t even vote for themselves.
That’s because they don’t live in the district where they’re running.
Of course, there’s no law that says they have to. Those district borders are redrawn once a decade — and this year it led to a particularly bitter partisan fight that went all the way to the Supreme Court.
And the state’s population gains during the 2020 census meant a 14th Congressional district had to be carved out.
So with all of those factors, should anyone even bother to care where a candidate calls home?
“It should matter, though it matters a lot less today than it once did,” said Asher Hildebrand, a professor at Duke and former chief of staff for Rep. David Price, D-North Carolina.
“It’s certainly the case that whether a member of Congress or a candidate lives in the specific district they’re running in is not quite the issue that it once was for voters,” Hildebrand added.
Candidates for Congress are not required to live in the district they represent — just the state — and those residency requirements are actually tougher for those running for the General Assembly. Candidates must live in the district they wish to represent for a full year before the November election.
“And that’s why you see members (of Congress) live a stone’s throw from their district,” Hildebrand said. “Or, in some cases, further from that.”
CBS 17 checked voter registration and residency records for the 28 candidates who won the Democratic or Republican primaries in their congressional races.
Seven were found to live outside their district, though all were reasonably close to those areas.
Republican Rep. Greg Murphy, who has represented the state’s 3rd district since 2019, lives in the 1st district — with his house in Greenville about 2 miles from the border.
Hildebrand says there’s “probably a difference between someone like Dr. Murphy, who lives a couple of blocks from his district” and a candidate who might strategically choose a district because it’s easier to win an election there.
Among other Congressional candidates:
— Democratic Rep. Alma Adams is running for re-election in the 12th district. On the old map, her Charlotte residence falls in that district. But the new one has it in the 14th. Adams previously lived in Greensboro but moved to Charlotte after a redrawn map placed that home in the 13th.
— Republican Christine Villaverde, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Deborah Ross in the 2nd district, lives in Fuquay-Varina in the 13th, about 20 miles south of the line. Villaverde said in a statement to CBS 17 News that she knows “the 2nd district and our local community well.”
— Democratic State Rep. Wiley Nickel, who is running against Republican political novice Bo Hines in the 13th district, lives in Cary in the 2nd district — about five miles north of the boundary for the 13th.
Hines lived in Winston-Salem before moving to Fuquay-Varina — and into the 13th district — in April, about two months before the primary election.
It’s an even bigger deal in other states: In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has hit Republican Mehmet Oz for living in a mansion in New Jersey for years until 2020.
“We’ll see with Hines vs. Nickel and in the senate race in Pennsylvania whether they care enough to make it a voting issue,” Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand says those cases are “kind of the ultimate test of how nationalized our politics have become.”
The longtime axiom that “all politics is local” has been turned upside down, with voters becoming so polarized by national-level poliltics, Hildebrand said, “that they couldn’t care less whether their candidates even live in the district.
“And so I think we have some interesting test cases of that question,” he said.