Maryland congressional card could allow Democrats to go 8-0 | Maryland News


By BRIAN WITTE, Associated Press

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland lawmakers will have before them cards of Congress when they meet for a special session on redistribution on Monday, including a proposal that could see Democrats claim a seat and sweep all eight US House seats from Maryland and a very different map proposed by Republican Governor Larry Hogan.

While the Democrats who control the General Assembly have a veto-proof majority to approve the proposal backed by his leadership, it won’t come quietly under Hogan, a rare Republican who just happens to be stationed in Maryland heavily. Democrat for a year of redistribution.

The special session, which is expected to last around a week, takes place because the GOP only needs a net gain of five seats to take control of the US House.

Politicians across the United States this year have been gerrymandering – attracting ridings that either lump the opposing party’s voters into a few ridings or divide them into several to dilute their influence. Republicans did it in states like North Carolina and Texas, and Democrats did it in Illinois and Oregon.

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A Maryland commission of six lawmakers that included House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate Speaker Bill Ferguson, both of whom are Democrats, voted 4-2 along party lines last month for a card supporters say be an improvement on the state’s current map – which has been criticized and challenged in court for its sprawling neighborhoods.

“Throughout the process, it was clear the Marylanders believed their representation could be improved with more compact and easier to follow districts,” Jones and Ferguson said in a joint statement.

Still, the eight districts would have more registered Democrats than Republicans under the proposal.

This makes the district owned by the only Republican member of state in the United States, Representative Andy Harris, more competitive by adding Democrats registered in the 1st Congressional District, which includes the East Coast and is now strongly Republican according to the current map. The proposed map would bring part of the Harris District across the Chesapeake Bay into Anne Arundel County, and it would tilt in the Democrats’ advantage when it comes to the number of registered voters.

Hogan offers a separate map drawn by a panel of appointed citizens, rather than politicians. The governor-appointed commission had nine members, including three Democrats, three Republicans and three independents.

“I was hoping the General Assembly leadership would follow Governor Hogan’s lead with a non-partisan, citizen-led redistribution process,” Harris, who is running for his seventh term, said in a statement. “Instead, we could have districts stretching from the Susquehanna River to Montgomery County that are called communities of shared interest. I’m glad that at least the east coast has been left untouched.

Democrat Heather Mizeur, who is running to challenge Harris, is a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates who raised more than $ 1 million for her campaign. She also has the endorsement of former Republican District Representative Wayne Gilchrest.

“We are running a coalition campaign under a big tent where we have Republicans, Independents and Democrats supporting our efforts,” Mizeur said in a recent interview. “It just helps our district to be more competitive.”

In a state where Democrats outnumber 2-1 GOP voters, Democrats now hold a 7-1 advantage over Republicans in the US House delegation from Maryland. It was 6-2, before a decade ago the constituency redistribution added Democrats to the Western Maryland District, resulting in the defeat of incumbent Republican Representative Roscoe Bartlett.

The map supported by Hogan would largely restore these two districts on the east and west sides of the state.

Opponents of the legislative commission’s proposed card say it could be challenged in court, if approved.

Of the. Neil Parrott, a West Maryland Republican running for Congress, led a petitions campaign that gave voters the option to reject the Congress card in a 2012 statewide vote. Voters ended up supporting the card, but Parrott isn’t ruling out another petition.

Hogan supported comprehensive redistribution reform, while arguing that the state’s congressional map should better reflect Maryland voters.

“I think their intention is to continue doing some of the worst gerrymandering in the country, and we try to convince them that it doesn’t make sense and that they should follow the Citizen Redistribution Commission,” Hogan said on Wednesday. , after a meeting with Ferguson. “But it’s good that we have a dialogue, and it was a very open and honest discussion.”

Governor points out that the Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave an “A” grade to the card proposed by its committee, while it gave a fail rating to the cards proposed by the legislative committee, based on partisan fairness and competitiveness.

“This card scored an ‘F’ on our analysis because it would be really poised to strongly favor Democrats statewide,” said Helen Brewer, legal analyst for the initiative, who conducts non-partisan analysis. cards in a state. level by state.

Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, said voters have consistently expressed a preference in polls for political boundaries to be drawn by an independent commission, rather than politicians. However, voters in a strongly democratic state also take into account the overall national context, she said.

“The political reality is that we live in a very polarized society right now, and Democrats are not interested in ceding seats to Republicans, especially now,” Kromer said.

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