NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Redistricting is on the horizon in North Carolina, and Republicans are gearing up to present their new maps.

Now that representative Tricia Cotham has decided to join the Republican party — speculation looms as to whether or not the new maps will be drawn with a little help for the party’s newest member.

But Republican lawmakers deny that, and political experts say there’s not much Republicans could do to help Cotham keep her seat regarding redrawing the maps.

“The challenge here is that you have to end up with districts with roughly the same number of people,” said Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at UNCC. “They’d have to find pockets of Republican voters and kind of draw the line stretching and continuing around to grab them.”

Heberlig says if Republicans could make District 112 redder, they would’ve done it already.

However, Heberlig thinks the political shift in N.C.’s Supreme Court will impact how the maps end up.

“The shift in the North Carolina Supreme Court to a Republican majority would make it easier for Republicans to get a more obvious Republican gerrymander through,” Heberlig explained. “I think their challenge is not really the supreme court as much as the voting trends in southeastern Mecklenburg County.”

Republican Rep. Jeff McNeely says the maps will be drawn fairly, ensuring everyone is properly represented.

“I feel like we’ll put forth good quality districts in the future,” McNeely said. “So we’ll just wait and see what everybody’s district is. And we’ll work with that and try to hopefully, if we choose to, get reelected, or new people want to emerge from districts that maybe don’t have a representative in there right now.”

McNeely says Republicans are focusing on the budget and will narrow in on redistricting in the coming months.

They will try to have the new maps out before they leave in July.