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Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., is set to announce his retirement from the House in a move that will deal another blow to Democrats’ chances of keeping control of the chamber in the midterm elections.
Butterfield, a longtime member and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, will make the announcement Thursday that he will not be seeking reelection, according to reports. The veteran lawmaker was first elected to represent North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 2004.
The planned announcement comes two weeks after North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a new congressional map that may put Butterfield’s typically safe seat within reach of the GOP, with the new districting going from leaning Democratic by seven points to now leaning Democratic by one point, according to the political website FiveThirtyEight.
Democrats have filed a lawsuit over the map, claiming that the new boundary will dilute the influence of black voters in Butterfield’s district. Butterfield vowed earlier this month to continue fighting for his seat.
“I do plan to run again. I’m going to give it everything that I have,” Butterfield told ABC11 at the time.
But those plans have now changed, with sources close to the lawmaker telling WRAL that the new district boundary played a key role in his decision to step aside.
Butterfield’s planned retirement comes the same week as Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., announced their retirements, adding to a flow of Democratic incumbents that have announced their departure from Congress. A total of 11 Democrats have announced that they will not be seeking reelection in 2022, compared to nine Republicans who plan to retire.
Before being elected to Congress, Butterfield served as an associate justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court. In addition to being a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Democratic lawmaker was a fierce supporter of making healthcare more affordable and making investments in the country’s rural communities.
His retirement is another blow to Democrats as the party clings to an already thin majority ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Some analysts believe that the GOP is set to flip at least five seats due to redistricting alone, the exact number of seats the party would need to flip in order to regain the majority in the chamber.