Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson is running for North Carolina attorney general in the wake of an aggressive Republican gerrymander that all but guaranteed he couldn’t have won reelection.
Jackson, a former prosecutor and veteran serving his first term in Congress, represents NC-14, one of four significantly redrawn districts under the new congressional map Republicans adopted Wednesday. The current congressional delegation is split 7-7, but the new map draws 10 districts that are safe GOP seats, three that are safe Democratic districts and one that is competitive.
The newly redrawn NC-14 would have voted 58 percent for former President Donald Trump in 2020 — a reversal from the blue-leaning district that Jackson won in 2022.
“A group of politicians in North Carolina just redrew my congressional district to take me out,” he said in a video on Thursday. “I’m running for attorney general, and I’m going to use that job to go after political corruption.”
Prior to joining Congress, Jackson was an assistant district attorney and state senator.
The North Carolina attorney general seat is open in 2024 as incumbent Democrat Josh Stein runs for governor. Jackson’s entry makes him the immediate frontrunner in the race, ahead of the little-known candidates who have already announced bids.
It also sets up a potential member-on-member general election, as Republicans have a big name in the running: Rep. Dan Bishop. A member of the Freedom Caucus, the congressman could bring outsized attention and money to the oft-overlooked race. Bishop already has the backing of the Republican Attorneys General Association, giving him an advantage in his primary election.
Democrats have historically succeeded in attorneys general races in North Carolina, although by increasingly slim margins. Stein won reelection in 2020 by less than 1 point — but still outperformed President Joe Biden, who lost the Tar Heel State. The Democratic Attorneys General Association has begun investing heavily into the race and earlier this week placed a $4 million cable and broadcast reservation in an attempt to hold the seat.
“DAGA’s closely watching this race, and we’re confident that we’re going to hold the North Carolina AG seat,” DAGA spokesperson Emily Trifone said in a statement, calling Bishop an “out-of-touch extremist.”
Republican state House Speaker Tim Moore is considering a bid for NC-14, and Republican Pat Harrigan, who lost to Jackson by around 15 points in 2022, has been in the race since August.
It’s not clear yet what will happen to the other North Carolina Democrats affected by the new map.
Rep. Kathy Manning’s district will lean toward Republicans under the new map, but she said before the map was rolled out that she would seek reelection anyway. Rep. Wiley Nickel, whose district will also favor the GOP, said in a statement that he does not want to “give these maps credibility by announcing a run in any of these gerrymandered districts” and said he’d make a decision “once the courts have spoken.”
Rep. Don Davis of blue-leaning NC-01 — the only district that will be a toss-up under the new map — hasn’t said whether he’s running for reelection. “While analysts and attorneys are still reviewing [the maps], I plan to continue focusing on representing the people of the First Congressional District,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.