Why am I not surprised that the three members of the state’s redistricting panel who could be bothered to show up for a meeting on the lower Eastern Shore looked so disinterested? Maybe it’s because they knew there was already something in the can?
According to Len Lazarick and the Maryland Reporter, the Congressional map could look like that described in this article today. Certainly the Democrats who managed to pack GOP voters into two Congressional districts last time around have outdone themselves this time by making the First Congressional District roughly an R+20 district, give or take. That’s great news for Andy Harris, whose district actually remains relatively similar except for losing the small portion of Anne Arundel County he represents but gaining the northern parts of Baltimore and Harford counties now in the Sixth Congressional District. Maybe the Democrats figure that, by running Frank Kratovil again and lying some more about Andy’s record, they can still pull the upset like they did in 2008 in an R+15 district.
On the other hand, Roscoe Bartlett’s Sixth District would be nearly sliced off at the western line of Frederick County, instead taking the predicted southern turn through extreme southern Frederick County to encompass a large portion of what is now the Eighth Congressional District in Montgomery County. Other current Sixth District voters in Frederick County would flip over to the Eighth District; meanwhile, much of Carroll County would be added to an L-shaped Seventh Congressional District which ends up in the heart of Baltimore City. Yep, those voters have SO much in common. The eastern edge of the Sixth District switches over to the First.
And poor Anne Arundel County would again be divided between four Congressional Districts: the Second Congressional District which hopscotches around the Baltimore suburbs, the Third Congressional District which veers around in a convoluted sort of “Z” shape around much of the rest of Baltimore, the Fourth Congressional District shared with Prince George’s County, and the Fifth Congressional District which stretches southward to the Potomac River. Nope, no effort to gain political advantage and protect incumbents there.
Once again, should this map or something similar be adopted, Maryland will be the laughingstock of good government advocates and further enshrine themselves into a Gerrymandering Hall of Shame. Simply put, the three districts which involve Baltimore City are a complete joke when it seems to me their interests would be better served by having one Congressman to call their own rather than sharing with the rural expanses of Carroll County or various points in the suburbs.
And the sad thing is that this committee obviously didn’t listen to legitimate concerns expressed by members of both parties who said they should better respect geographic lines. Local Democrats will obviously be crushed to see their wishes of a “balanced” First District tossed out the window – of course they’d get over it if the changes meant the Democrats had a 7-1 Congressional edge in a state they should rightfully (by voter registration numbers) enjoy only a 5-3 margin.
Nope, it’s all about power, particularly in the jigsaw puzzle they create in the middle of the state. So how do we get standing in court to fight this?