Butterfield announces retirement, hits GOP over ‘racially gerrymandered’ map

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) on Thursday announced he will not run for a 10th term in Congress next year, pointing to what he alleged was a “racially gerrymandered” map created by North Carolina’s GOP-led legislature as a factor in his decision.

Butterfield, who has served North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District for nearly 18 years, announced his retirement in a video posted to Twitter, in which he knocked the Republican Party for placing “party politics” above the “best interests” of North Carolina residents.

“The map that was recently enacted by the legislature is a partisan map. It’s racially gerrymandered. It will disadvantage African American communities all across the first congressional district,” Butterfield said in the video.

“I am disappointed, terribly disappointed with the Republican majority legislature for again gerrymandering our state’s congressional districts and putting their party politics over the best interests of North Carolinians,” he added.

North Carolina’s GOP-led General Assembly earlier this month approved new congressional maps that put Butterfield in a potentially competitive seat. Under the new lines, Butterfield’s district would not have included the Democratic-leaning city of Greenville. The new maps also makes his district, previously one of two majority-minority districts in the state, majority-white, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.

Democrats are suing the state over the new maps, arguing that they were drawn with political intentions, which is unconstitutional in North Carolina.

The congressman said that while he hopes the courts will get involved to “overturn this partisan map and see that a fair map is enacted,” he has decided not to seek a 10th term next year.

“It is time for me to retire and allow the torch to be passed as someone who shares the values of the district and can continue the work I have labored so hard for the past 18 years,” the 74-year-old lawmaker said.

Butterfield’s announcement is yet another blow to House Democrats, who have already seen nine others in their party announce retirements ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Those retirements only add to the headwinds Democrats face in attempting to defend their razor-thin majority.

Republicans need to net just five seats next year to take control of the House.

Butterfield reflected on his years in the lower chamber in his announcement video, thinking back to his time on the Energy and Commerce Committee and his tenure as senior chief deputy whip.

“I have helped to craft and pass legislation that has empowered millions of Americans of all persuasions who have been denied the American dream. I am proud of my work in Congress on behalf of my constituents, and I know that my life’s work of fighting for greater fairness and equity will not cease even after the close of the 117th Congress,” Butterfield said.

“While the challenges our nation face, faces are great, I am confident that our best days are yet ahead,” he added.

The congressman also said he formed friendships with members from both sides of the aisle that “will endure for a lifetime,” and thanked his staff for the work they have done over the years.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) applauded Butterfield’s tenure in Congress, calling him “an esteemed and effective leader in the Congress and the Country, who has dedicated his life to fighting For The People.”

“From the courtroom to the Congress, Congressman Butterfield has made it his mission for expand opportunity in America, and he has succeeded,” she added in a statement.

Tags G.K. Butterfield Nancy Pelosi North Carolina

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