The father of unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps in North Carolina has died.
Tom Hofeller, 75, died Thursday at his adopted home in Raleigh after a long battle with cancer, one of his close friends told The Hill newspaper.
For more than four decades, when Republicans needed strategic advice drawing political boundaries, the party turned to a small cadre of expert cartographers, trained in the rare art of redistricting. At the heart of that group was Tom Hofeller.
A mild-mannered California native who rarely allowed himself to be quoted in the media, Hofeller may be more responsible for the Republican majority in Congress than any other single person in modern politics.
He is one of only a handful of people who helped create the modern redistricting process, first by crafting district lines meant to overcome decades of Democratic advantages and then by tilting the field in favor of Republicans in later years.
As both parties became more aware of the importance of drawing district lines, and more litigious when the lines were not drawn in their favor, Hofeller began consulting Republicans in charge of drawing maps in their states, urging caution and pragmatism in preparation for an inevitable court challenge.
Hofeller is responsible for drawing the gerrymandered North Carolina maps in 2011 and redrawing them last year after top Republicans re-hired him. Those same lawmakers haven’t commented publicly on his passing, but General Assembly special counsel Brent Woodcox called Hofeller a gentleman and a mentor on Twitter.
Tom Hofeller was a gentleman, a mentor to me, and a kind friend as I started my career in politics. I’m so grateful for his influence on my life and my career. I mourn for all those who knew and loved this incredible man. https://t.co/pAt5XUCz7K
— Brent Woodcox (@BrentWoodcox) August 18, 2018
Several people commented on Twitter about Hofeller’s passing and the influence he had over elections through mapmaking.
Gerrymandering is wrong whichever party does it. RIP Tom Hofeller, the GOP’s incredibly skillful map drawer, responsible for the 2016 NC Congressional map, which looks so innocent, but in fact is heavily biased & was found unconstitutional in fed court. #NCPOL @LWVNCAROLINA
— Jennifer Bremer (@JBremerDevt) August 19, 2018
As a fellow redistricting practitioner & analyst, I respected Tom Hofeller’s skill at designing shrewd & effective redistricting maps. But that doesn’t negate that North Carolina Republicans successfully used his gerrymanders for anti-democratic purposes https://t.co/tb47GtCKvc
— Stephen Wolf (@PoliticsWolf) August 18, 2018
Tom Hofeller was always a gentleman and a professional who knew how to do his job well for his clients. I was often able to figure out if Tom was behind a map I was working on; he had great technique .@PoliticsWolf @PoliticsReid @gercohen @srl @Redistrict @UnderhillWendy https://t.co/e2aG85fGAY
— Jeff Wice (@JeffWice) August 18, 2018
Tom Hofeller was the face of Republican redistricting for a generation. His expertise was unmatched as was his commitment to teaching and training others. We will miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom’s family as they mourn his passing. https://t.co/HBv3z3gBBg
— NRRT (@TheNRRT) August 19, 2018
Tom Hofeller, master of gerrymandering, has died. He led the way to the battles of today. Without him, House Republicans would have no chance of withstanding this fall’s likely performance by Democrats. Here, a profile. https://t.co/OINujq4fwA
— Sam Wang (@SamWangPhD) August 19, 2018