Mr. Glidewell soon got a call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the arm of the Democratic Party that doles out money and tactical support to House candidates. They were seeking a donation.
“I said, ‘Ma’am, I am actually running for Congress in this district, and I wish you’d pass along that I need as much help as you say you do,’” he recalled. But to the committee, Mr. Glidewell was a lost cause. “They wouldn’t talk to me,” he said.
In the campaign that followed, Mr. Glidewell’s largest contribution, $5,400, came from his wife. His campaign cost $93,300, most of it spent on internet advertising, yard signs and car magnets. “No television,” he said. “We couldn’t afford it.” Mr. Walker’s campaign spent more than that — $94,716, to be precise — on fund-raising consultants alone.
That November, Mr. Walker shellacked Mr. Glidewell, 59 percent to 41 percent, and had more than $225,000 in unspent donations in the bank. Other incumbent House members have leftover funds from past campaigns, too — $2.4 million, in one case. “So it’s even more impossible to get a credible opponent,” Mr. Glidewell said.
Tim Moreland is a Democratic political operative in Guilford County, where Greensboro is located. He said that uncompetitive districts lead to lazy incumbents, less-qualified challengers and election campaigns that provide little clarity.
“We get a lot of politicians who have been in seats for a very long time,” he said. “They’ve never had to run a competitive election, or raise a lot of money, or work to build relationships with the other party. Input from the average voter matters less and less.”
Some academics dispute it, but political veterans say gerrymanders widen political divisions because incumbents have no incentive to court moderates and swing voters.