Odds and ends number 51

Once again, my occasional look at those items I find are worth a paragraph but maybe not a full post.

I’m going to start with some reaction to the recent comments by Maryland Democratic Party Chair Yvette Lewis regarding the ongoing redistricting petition. This comes from Radamese Cabrera of the Fannie Lou Hamer PAC, a group which opposed the current gerrymandering because they felt minorities were underrepresented.

While he discusses the lack of logic in splitting large counties and Baltimore City into multiple Congressional districts, I think the most interesting allegations come here:

The Fannie Lou Hamer PAC firmly believes that the majority Black jurisdictions of Baltimore City and Prince George’s County and the majority-minority county of Montgomery were drawn to protect and elect White Male Democratic representatives.  I believe that Congessman Steny Hoyer, Congressman Dutch Ruppersburger and Congressman John Sarbanes are afraid to represent a White voting majority Congressional District.  These individuals could only win in a White plurality districts.

In plain simple language, this means they need a District with a Black population with at least 25%.  It will be interesting to see if John Delaney (D) can beat Roscoe Bartlett (R) in the 6th Congressional District when the this District is very conservative and has a large White plurality vote.

To quote Governor Howard Dean in the 2004 Presidential Campaign, “Why are White Democrats afraid to campaign and win elections in jurisdictions that are 90% + White?”  Ms. Lewis, the question that needs to be raised in 2012 is; Why are White Democratic elected officials at the Federal, State, and County levels afraid of campaigning in majority White Districts?

The question not asked here is the more obvious one: why do minorities consistently vote for Democrats? If you look at economic results since the days of the Great Society one would have to conclude through a preponderance of the evidence that monolithically voting for the Democrats has provided a disservice to the black community. Voting 75-25 in favor of Democrats instead of 90-10 or 95-5 might just get someone at 33 West Street to really pay attention to your needs. After all, white people split their votes so both sides try to earn our trust.

The next item I wanted to talk about probably has no hope in hell of succeeding in Maryland, at least until 2014. But Bob Williams of State Budget Solutions has written a piece on how to deal with government employee unions. It’s timely in the wake of Wisconsin’s success.

Besides unions in states which aren’t ‘right-to-work’ states (Maryland is not one) I can’t think of any other entity where money is taken from a person involuntarily and used for a political purpose the worker may not approve of. If some state official went around and told employees they had to donate to his or her re-election fund or be fired, the official would be run out of town on a rail once that was found out. But unions do this and no one bats an eye – of course, when that power is taken away (and Williams provides examples of this) Big Labor finds itself in big financial trouble.

Unfortunately, Maryland finds itself going in the other direction – for example, child care workers are now forced to either join the union or pay a “service fee” to them. And guess where they go? To the union’s “Committee on Political Education” (read: contributions to toady Democrats.)

Speaking of unions, I wanted to follow up on something I wrote on Examiner about three weeks ago. I noticed a few days later the picketers had gone across the street to picket Walmart, at least for one day. (I suspect Wendy’s may have taken exception to the group of three people drawing attention to their restaurant.) But a friend I spoke with who works at Walmart contended the picket wasn’t about the Salisbury store but rather one being built in Denton, Maryland – presumably by non-union labor. Regardless, I don’t think it’s going to hurt Walmart’s business and people are going to be happy to finally have them in Caroline County rather than drive to Easton, Seaford, or Dover.

Troopathon 2012 logo

And now about the image you see on the left. I’ve spoken about this event a few times in the past, and while we seem to be winding down in our foreign military involvement it’s a sure bet that we won’t be retreating to Fortress America anytime soon.

So this year Move America Forward selected Thursday, July 12 as its date. It seems like this is a little later on the calendar than it has been in the past, so maybe they’re looking to take advantage of the patriotic fervor that comes in the wake of Independence Day. (Or, more likely, it works better with the calendar of proposed guests and hosts – a list which will surely be announced on the Troopathon website once it’s restarted over the next few weeks.)

The Move America Forward group also promises a revamped theme:

For Troopathon 2012, we’re taking the gloves off and giving Troopathon a much more raw, gritty theme than you have seen in the past. No more fancy stuff, just raw in-your-face and fervent support for our troops in Afghanistan! (Emphasis in original.)

Perhaps that’s a necessary change because, after raising $1.3 million in the first rendition back in 2008, their results have petered out to around $500,000 last year – a nice total, but short of their $700,000 goal. And while that may not matter so much simply because there are far fewer soldiers afield than there were in 2008, the lack of support also sends a subliminal message to both our troops and our jihadist enemies.

The final note will be a programming note: as I let my monoblogue Facebook fans know on Friday, I will have an interview with U.S. Senate hopeful Dan Bongino up at 8:00 tonight. If you want some of the inside scoop on this site, become a Facebook fan of mine!

First obstacle overcome for redistricting vote

It was closer than organizers would like, but the effort to bring Congressional redistricting to referendum will move on after turning in 25,000 signatures to the state Board of Elections Thursday. That eclipsed the 18,579 needed and saved the Maryland Republican Party from a bitter and public defeat. Now they have 30 more days to collect another 37,157 valid signatures to place Maryland’s newly-drawn Congressional districts on the November ballot.

While there are elements within the Maryland GOP which prefer the new districts, the party as a whole is backing the effort to erase the lines that party Chair Alex Mooney called a “direct attack by power-hungry Democrats in Annapolis” in a message to supporters. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Bongino echoed that sentiment, calling the map”absolutely ridiculous” because his home county of Anne Arundel has been shredded into four different Congressional districts.

(continued at Examiner.com…)

Redistricting petition could fall short

While I wrote yesterday on the optimism of same-sex marriage opponents regarding their drive to bring that bill to referendum, the same cannot be said of those who would like a reconsideration of our Congressional districts. Going into the final weekend of signature gathering before a May 31 deadline to collect 1/3 of the signatures eventually needed, the campaign explicitly states “we don’t yet have the signatures we need in hand.”

Unlike the same-sex marriage proposal, which arouses the ire of religious groups and others who support traditional marriage, redistricting doesn’t seem to have much of a passionate base in opposition. In an era where shockingly few even know who represents them in Congress and others are resigned to politics as usual, it could be too much to ask to get the “Marymandering” to the ballot this November.

(continued at Examiner.com…)

The McDermott notes: week 1

As last year’s General Assembly session wore on, I found that freshman Delegate Mike McDermott’s weekly field notes were a very perceptive and comprehensive look at what was going on in Annapolis. So this year I’m making the executive decision to feature his notes (and my commentary on same) on a weekly basis, generally Sunday evenings.

McDermott is the one Delegate I voted for, although in future elections I won’t have that opportunity to re-elect him as Delegate unless I move to Somerset or southern Worcester county – the Democrats’ redistricting gerrymandering changed what was a two-delegate district based primarily in Worcester County, with the eastern half of Wicomico County added to create the requisite population, into two separate single-member districts with the existing District 38B truncated to be a district mostly based in the eastern portions of Salisbury along with Delmar and Fruitland. A new District 38C made up of eastern Wicomico and northern Worcester counties was then created, splitting Worcester County in two for the first time in recent memory. Oddly enough, we already have one prospective candidate there, but either Delegate McDermott or current District 38A Delegate Charles Otto of Somerset County – both freshman Republicans – will have to move up (to the Maryland Senate) or move out.

Now that you have a little bit of background on the man, I’ll go through what he had to say.

Mike begins by describing Wednesday’s opening session and the remarks by Governor O’Malley and House Speaker Michael Busch. I probably find it even more insulting than he does when it’s said that the state is better when it has the views from the right and the left in government – perhaps I’d be less insulted if that wasn’t so hypocritical on its face. If they really wanted views from the right, all the legislative districts would have been single-member districts done in a strictly geographical fashion – no little peninsulas to place one favored Delegate in a “friendly” district or districts which could pass for inkblots to make sure mainly minority voters get a district for themselves. I prefer the best, most conservative candidate no matter what color he or she is.

As for Thursday’s remarks, I found them interesting as well. Obviously the General Assembly gets into some seriously mundane issues, but I am surprised no one is clamoring for the inmates to get free calls because to do otherwise would be ‘unfair.’

Regarding a meeting by the Eastern Shore delegation with Secretary of Planning Richard Hall, McDermott related his opinion that:

It was quite clear that we are at polar ends of the specter (sic) with the O’Malley administration when it comes to PlanMaryland, but the concerns expressed were bi-partisan in nature. Maryland has operated for decades with a State Department of Planning  that has worked to provide guidance to local government. This plan will turn that “guidance” into direct oversight.

Not only that, PlanMaryland places the state in a position to usurp local authority by withholding necessary funding if development doesn’t meet their (somewhat arbitrary) standards of ‘sustainability.’ Obviously if a county or municipality wants to “go it alone” that may be feasible for now, but I’m sure eventually the state will tie other funding, like the stipends they send for educational funding, to compliance. While it’s claimed the state has had the authority to enact a PlanMaryland since 1974, there was no reason to go around the legislative branch to come up with a plan that’s a key offensive of the War on Rural Maryland.

I’ll be interested to see what becomes of McDermott’s compensation bill, but I suspect Governor O’Malley will tell that committee head to lock it away in a desk drawer someplace until about the middle of April.

I look forward to receiving this weekly update from Delegate McDermott, but what I don’t look forward to is the assault on our wallets and our liberty sure to come from this body as the months wear on and the items enacted during the “90 Days of Terror” become law.

We might have to get that referendum pen ready.

 

Lower Shore gerrymandering in Friday night document dump

Late this evening, the Maryland Department of Planning released their versions (House of Delegates and Senate) of the redistricting map for the General Assembly. For the purpose of this post, though, I’m going to concentrate on Districts 37 and 38.

The new District 37 is a lot like the old one, as they maintained a majority-minority district in 37A which snakes along the U.S. 50 corridor between Salisbury and Cambridge, with a arm of the district heading up toward Hurlock in Dorchester County. But District 37B now makes nearly an entire crescent around the single-member district and swallows up much of the Wicomico County territory formerly in District 38A. Geographically it’s a huge district that takes in all of Talbot County, the southern end of Caroline County, most of Dorchester County and the southern and western ends of Wicomico County, plus a small area near Sharptown. In essence, it moved a little bit southward and eastward.

As for District 38, well, I got part of my wish as it will now be comprised of three single-Delegate seats. The 38A portion, though, now takes in all of Somerset County and the southern half of Worcester County, with a spike running along the U.S. 113 corridor into the Berlin area. I predicted this would happen because it would force two incumbent Republicans (Charles Otto and Mike McDermott) into the same district. Looks like we have our 2014 District 38 Senate candidate now.

District 38B maintains only a sliver of the Wicomico County portion of the existing district, and looks tailor-made for another run by Norm Conway. To me it looks like the western boundary hardly changed so it’s now primarily a Salisbury/Delmar/Fruitland district, as it did move a little bit southward to take in that former 38A territory. The eastern side of Wicomico County and the northern half of Worcester County (except Berlin) now become part of the new District 38C.

So who does this benefit? Obviously the new District 37 will probably keep the incumbents in office, or at least decrease the chance for a non-minority to win the 37A seat. Rich Colburn picked up a decently Republican chunk of Wicomico County but lost quite a bit of Caroline County to District 36. So that is probably a wash. But District 38 was built simply to eliminate one Republican from the area, and the extension of District 38A into Berlin may have been on the behalf of Berlin mayor Gee Williams, who tried for the seat before. Perhaps it’s a more lopsidedly Republican seat, but now it gets only one Delegate.

And I’m stuck with Norm Conway, since I’ll be in the new and smaller District 38B. Unless Mike McDermott moves closer to me, he won’t be my Delegate anymore in a practical sense. But that’s okay – it just means I can give old Five Dollar more flak if he decides to run again, which I hope he doesn’t. Given the fact the district maintained its irregular shape at the western end, my guess is that he will and they eliminated the rural parts of his district to help his cause.

Finally, I’m disappointed with the MDP’s map since it wouldn’t allow me to figure out the new districts close-up – that is unless my laptop isn’t up to the task. So forgive me my wild guesses as to where the districts lie, but before that site failed me I did verify my home is in 38B. Not by a whole lot, though.

Update: This example may illustrate how cut up our area is. Along the first two miles of Mount Hermon Road you can have houses in four different districts. At the far west end of the road and up to Civic Avenue it’s the border between the extreme eastern fringe of District 37A on the north side and 38B on the south side. Then about a mile or so it’s in entirely in 38B, until the road passes under U.S. 13. Then it’s solely in District 38C for a short distance until it crosses a creek just west of Hobbs Road, when the highway becomes the border between 38C on one side and District 37B on the other. Finally, just past Walston Switch Road, the road becomes part of 38C. To use east side landmarks, the airport is in 37B, Perdue Stadium is in 38C, WinterPlace Park is in 38B, and the established part of the Aydelotte neighborhood is on the edge of 37A.

MDGOP 2011 Fall Convention in pictures and text

At the risk of a slow-loading post, there are 30 photos on this one. But I took a lot more, and you know every picture tells a story with me. And this is the story of the Maryland GOP Fall Convention, brought to you by…

I’ll begin with Friday night, the usual social time for the convention. Even though I’d never been to the Sheraton in Annapolis, once I saw these I knew I was in the right place.

(Of course, I took that snapshot yesterday morning.)

But first I sat through the first portion of the Executive Committee meeting. We got as far as a brief budget discussion and Chair’s Report before being tossed out when the meeting transitioned to a closed session. Perhaps the most interesting pieces of news were the search for a new Executive Director had attracted 40 applicants and the “several options” for a new home, where the goal is to choose the “place that’s most fiscally responsible.”

So it was time to find a hospitality suite and schmooze for votes. Because I’m a Cain supporter, that’s where I started out.

They had lots of balloons both inside and out. Naturally they had pretty substantial food too.

No, it’s not Godfather’s Pizza. Unfortunately, to be authentic we would have to endure cold pizza, considering the closest Godfather’s location is in Lancaster, PA – 72 miles from Annapolis. (Yes, I verified that.) It’s the thought that counts, right?

But I didn’t get the one thing I wanted from there because they didn’t have this swag on Saturday.

My car doesn’t have the Cain sticker on it yet. Maybe later.

But they also had the most witty signage by far, like this example.

Compare this to the quite understated Mitt Romney suite.

Many of those present there would be what one considers party brass. I see a former Chair and a current Committeeman in this picture.

Actually, I had an interesting conversation there with Audrey Scott there regarding a post I made awhile back. (I think it may be this one where I quoted something I wrote from 2006, before I was on the Central Committee.) I’m glad Audrey appreciates my passion but if that’s what she’s referring to she’s barking up the wrong tree.

Returning to the present day, I can’t ignore the other Presidential candidate with a presence there – although it wasn’t a hospitality suite.

I think that was the only Gadsden flag I saw there, despite the perceived influence of the TEA Party on GOP politics. I’m sure there is a segment of the TEA Party which prefers Ron Paul, but I wouldn’t go so far as saying he’s the most popular in that group.

It was a Senate candidate, though, who had the sweetest suite. Check out this spread, practically guaranteed to induce a diabetic coma.

It belonged to Senate hopeful Rich Douglas, who was holding court there with sponsor and former Ambassador Roger Noriega.

Notice the lapel poppy for Veteran’s Day; a nice touch.

Not to be outdone in the sweets department, fellow Senate candidate Dan Bongino had plenty of Smith Island cake, thanks to a friend. He also had the biggest space.

And, at the risk of making this look like a Weekend of local rock post, he’s the first candidate I’ve seen at these affairs with a band. These guys were pretty good classic rockers – I’m told the singer bassist is one of Dan’s county coordinators.

The signage was a little wordy but touted his endorsements. Dan revealed he has a few more before he’s done.

Besides the Bongino suite, which had decent traffic, I found the host county’s suite the most popular.

Maybe it’s all the elected official sponsors.

Speaking of supporters, it’s also worth further exploring something I touched upon with the Ron Paul table. A number of political organizations and businesses catering to that field had secured spaces. Here’s some of the examples.

The fairly new Maryland GOP Hispanic Coalition promoted an upcoming event – a forum on illegal immigration next week in Ellicott City.

As we were informed during the convention, the fight over Congressional redistricting is not over yet. This group is looking to install a much cleaner and fairer apportionment.

We had no shortage of social issue discussion there either.

Perhaps this group knew PMM was coming, and attempted a little bit of point/counterpoint.

Senator Nancy Jacobs, the former Minority Leader in the Senate, had her own backdrop. But it doesn’t reflect yet her probable run for the Second Congressional District seat held by Dutch Ruppersberger.

She also took a few minutes to appear on Red Maryland Radio, which was on location with co-hosts Greg Kline and Jimmy Braswell.

This looks pretty simple, doesn’t it? Here’s Kline getting set up earlier on.

And if you want true radio gold, give this a listen just after the 60 minute mark. Yes, it’s my RMR debut – long overdue, I must say.

But in all candor it was enjoyable to be part of that remote. Yet the show which was even more interesting came once the sun rose over Annapolis again.

Our breakfast speaker was Frank Kelly III. Now Frank isn’t an elected official, just an interested citizen and business owner who was tapped to speak to us about the marriage issue – something the GOP was “a little bit involved” in.

But I learned a couple things from Frank on the pro-life front. At the time of the adoption of Roe v. Wade in 1973, Maryland only permitted abortion in cases of rape, incest, or threat to mother’s life. That changed in 1990 when abortion on demand was passed through the Maryland legislature. And the chief Democratic opponent? A Senator named Frank Kelly.

The younger Kelly got emotional as he recounted how his dad’s eight day filibuster against the bill ended up costing him a pretty safe seat in the Maryland Senate, where he served three terms from 1978-90. “People were spitting on us” at the polls that year, but “my dad stood for life.”

Returning to the marriage front, Kelly also mentioned how the “language of discrimination has been artificially inserted” into the same-sex marriage issue. Gays want approval for their lifestyle, and thus anything said in disapproval is automatically labeled “hate speech.”

Frank yielded a portion of his time to Maryland Family Alliance president Derek McCoy.

McCoy echoed Kelly’s remarks, but also warned “there’s a culture war being waged” in Maryland and nationally. “We’re fighting for a signpost of morality” for future generations on the marriage issue, noting that North Carolina and Minnesota will have that issue on the ballot in 2012, and Maryland might, too, if a same-sex marriage bill succeeds this time in the General Assembly. Last time pro-homosexual advocacy group Equality Maryland “rigged the system” and threatened business which didn’t support their bill, McCoy claimed, but “we kept coming from so many sides” that a bill guaranteed to pass didn’t.

After breakfast, I sat in on an interesting training session on the media while others talked about candidate recruitment, fundraising, and other intriguing topics.

At lunch, Chair Alex Mooney went over some upcoming events before introducing our speaker, Delegate Neil Parrott.

Parrott was blunt in his assessment: “We see this great country under attack today.” He pointed out that the TEA Party delayed Obamacare by a year, which pushed back other noxious legislation like cap-and-trade. We had won victories on national issues thanks to the influence of the TEA Party.

In Maryland, though, Neil still believed “the arrogance of the liberal leadership is appalling.” Still, the petition drive he spearheaded against in-state tuition for illegal aliens was a model which could be used elsewhere. And since only 1/3 of the signatures gathered for the drive were under contention due to the collection system, there should be more than enough to place the bill on the ballot despite a pending lawsuit. The internet-based system “worked like a charm” in driving down the error rate, and was “a new tool” we could use – provided there’s follow-through and the issue wins at the ballot box, too.

Parrott also brought up redistricting, saying the Congressional map was “ridiculous” and that “we can’t allow O’Malley to get away with this” on either the Congressional or state redistricting.

In closing, Parrott brought up the real-life examples of Wisconsin, Maine, and New Jersey to conclude change is possible if we work hard enough to make it happen.

Finally, it was time for the main event.

I already detailed the fate of our bylaws amendment, but there was a lot more said in the session. I’m going to focus on the reports of the Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin and House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell.

The newly elected Pipkin called it “humbling” to be selected as Minority Leader, but spent much of his time contending that Martin O’Malley wants to drive people back to Baltimore City through the War on Rural Maryland and its 1.6 million residents. Included in that assessment were the proposed septic ban, the “dangerous” PlanMaryland, Watershed Improvement Plans” which would cost 65,000 Maryland jobs, and the refusal to progress on extracting energy from the Marcellus Shale formation under Maryland’s panhandle. “O’Malley’s policies will kill jobs in rural areas,” Pipkin countered.

O’Donnell began his remarks by pointing out the GOP success in Virginia. “I sense it’s coming” to Maryland, he said, as Free State residents react to the prospects of higher gas taxes, Congressional redistricting which “insults the people of Maryland,” and a $28 billion time bomb of unfunded pensions and retiree benefits. He also had a message for the Fifth Congressional District: we “must hold Steny Hoyer accountable.”

We also heard briefly from Prince George’s County Chair Mykel Harris about the redistricting lawsuit he’s a plaintiff to. The Maryland GOP isn’t on defense anymore, he said, but instead “went on offense.” It’s fitting from a party that “passed civil rights and…will enforce it.”

Before we got to the bylaws amendment, we also received quick reports from our National Committeewoman Joyce Terhes, National Committeeman Louis Pope, Chair Alex Mooney, and Linda Hernandez of the aforementioned Hispanic Coalition. One item I gleaned from Mooney’s remarks was his claim that PlanMaryland is indeed subject to referendum. Very interesting.

So there you have it, the sights and words from our biannual get-together. Our Spring Convention should present a united front as the Presidential race will be pretty much decided, but we will have additional national convention delegates and alternates to select. In the meantime, Heather and I will likely redraft the Rule 11 amendment to reflect feedback we received, so look for that as well.

Stuck, unless a judge bails us out

I’ll let Maryland Republican Party Chair Alex Mooney get the first word in:

Earlier today, the House of Delegates passed Governor O’Malley’s gerrymandered Congressional District Plan.

After only a short debate, the House voted to pass it 91-46. It needed 85 votes for passage. We were 7 votes away from stalling the Governor’s plan. 7 votes. And last night, we were only 3 votes away from stopping it in the Senate. (Emphasis in original.)

Well, you already know how I feel about the situation, but I have two other observations to add before I call it a night.

First of all, there probably is or will shortly be a party at State Senator Rob Garagiola’s house because the governor did his level best to put him in Congress – never mind he has nothing at all in common with the residents of the “traditional” Sixth District.

Second, my hunch is pretty strong that we have one more Republican Senate entrant, and his name will not be Eric Wargotz. I think Pat McDonough sees the writing on the Congressional wall and will go for a statewide race. Of course, there is one caveat – he would have to do a lot of campaigning during the regular General Assembly session. But we know he’s running for something and it’s more likely now that a statewide race will be his preference.

But it’s those seven damn votes in the House of Delegates and three in the Senate which may haunt us for the next ten years. Even more so is the thought we were thisclose to keeping two Senate seats, and if we were only one vote short perhaps one other Democrat besides Senator Muse would have turned. (Knowing that, we also know that Jim Mathias voted for the plan. I also looked up the committee vote, and sure enough Delegate Norm “Five Dollar” Conway voted it out of committee. Why am I not shocked?)

So we fight on. In 2014 it’s time to remember this because they can’t get rid of all the conservatives. If we turn out 100 percent we still win.

Fresh maps, rancid gerrymandering

Or maybe it’s O’Malleymandering?

This actually came out late Friday night, but I wasn’t made aware of it until last night. Annie Linskey and John Fritze of the Baltimore Sun posted two maps they claimed were the top choices among Democrat redistricters. Neither is an improvement on the jigsaw puzzle we have now, particularly in the central part of the state – in fact, both of these solutions try extremely hard to ignore any semblance of honoring geographic boundaries. But it’s obvious the 10-0 project is in full effect with one option.

In comparison with a previous incarnation leaked to the Maryland Reporter website, there’s little change in the Democrats’ strategy of placing D.C. suburbanites with residents of the Maryland panhandle in the Sixth District. However, Option 1 brings in more rural voters by corkscrewing the district eastward from the Pennsylvania border in Frederick County around through the western reaches of MoCo back to the city of Frederick.

The question for Democrats seems to be whether to go for broke and try to oust Andy Harris or not. Their revised Option 1  tends to maintain the district as relatively Republican, but extends it west right along the Pennsylvania line to include portions of Carroll County for the first time. In return, much of Baltimore County is chopped away, with most of it going to the Seventh Congressional District of Rep. Elijah Cummings.

It’s Option 2 where they sell out to wipe out all the Republicans. While it’s a somewhat cleaner map geographically, for the first time in memory the Eastern Shore would be split among two Congressional districts – Salisbury would be the linchpin.

From Salisbury northward, the Eastern Shore would remain in District 1, with the Lower Shore population replaced by a bloc of voters accessed by a narrow strip through Anne Arundel County. Andy Harris, meet your new constituents in Prince George’s and Howard counties. Andy’s current residence would be a county removed from the new district, which would end at the Susquehanna River.

On the south and east sides of Salisbury, we would be introduced to our new Congressman – one Steny Hoyer. Yes, the Democrats would place all of Somerset and Worcester counties along with about 2/3 of Wicomico into the Fifth Congressional District. Good luck for us trying to outvote the swath of PG County left in Steny’s district to keep it a majority Democratic district. (In fact, adding Somerset might well make it a majority-minority district.)

It’s also interesting to look at the map and see the lengths Democrats went to in maintaining that each of their existing Congressional delegation remain in their districts, as pathways were created just long enough to keep  Chris Van Hollen in District 8 (which would either run westward along the Potomac or north into Carroll County) and Elijah Cummings in District 7.

Well, Democrats, you outdid yourselves. See you in court, because I would imagine either of these monstrosities will end up there.

Update: If Red Maryland is to be believed, the Eastern Shore will dodge a bullet with Option 1.

WCRC meeting – September 2011

Have you ever felt like something was deja vu all over again? Well, that was the sense I got in hearing State Senator Rich Colburn speak at last night’s Wicomico County Republican Club meeting.

Once we got through the usual business of the Lord’s Prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, introduction of guests, reading of the minutes, and treasurer’s report, we got to hear Senator Colburn deliver the bad news: everything old is new again with both the Special Session and what’s likely on tap for 2012.

Continue reading “WCRC meeting – September 2011”

Let the gerrymander begin

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?

Rushing through redistricting

Something seems awful fishy about this scheme.

On Monday, the Maryland Department of Planning released a schedule of hearing dates for those interested to speak out about the proposed Congressional and legislative redistricting. Today, just five days later, those in western Maryland will have just a few hours to speak up about how their region will be sliced and diced by the majority Democrats (and RINO who now consults for the O’Malley administration) into gerrymandered blobs suitable only for a Rorschach nightmare. On the other hand, the entire Eastern Shore will be covered in one Saturday at the start of ‘second season.’

Here’s the schedule breakdown:

  • Saturday, July 23 – Hancock (Washington County) and Frederick (Frederick County) at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively
  • Monday, July 25 – Largo (Prince George’s County) at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 10 – Rockville (Montgomery County) at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, August 12 – Baltimore City at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 24 – La Plata (Charles County) at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 27 – Bel Air (Harford County) and Towson (Baltimore County) at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively
  • Tuesday, August 30 – Anne Arundel and Howard counties, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively
  • Saturday, September 10 – Salisbury (Wicomico County) and Wye Mills (Queen Anne’s County) at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively

So the Republican areas of the state seem to be stacked up with multiple hearings on one day, while the Democratic and minority areas will have theirs mostly in the evenings. Yeah, that’s a fair hearing opportunity. Also, seven of the twelve hearings will be on weekends where people want to relax and may have made vacation plans.

Speakers addressing both Congressional and legislative redistricting will have five minutes to speak, which means at a maximum there’s going to be only about 15 to 20 able to testify at any weekend hearing. My guess is that hearings will likely be held to a two-hour maximum, particularly if you’re the first in a line of two – far western Maryland, Harford County, Anne Arundel County, and the lower Eastern Shore seem to be getting the short end of the stick here. (So what else is new?)

The other interesting item is requesting speaking time in advance. (Don’t worry, I’ve already signed up for the Wicomico County hearing so there should be at least one voice of sanity.) Who says that Democrats weren’t already tipped off to allow them to get the prime speaking slots? Maybe that’s overreaching a little bit, but the biggest problem with this hearing is that we don’t have a plan to criticize yet (aside from the Republican Congressional redistricting plan.) If we had a preliminary plan put out by the Governor, it would make for more meaningful discussion. We already know some Democrats dream of an 8-0 sweep in the Congressional delegation, and with just a few tweaks in the First and Sixth Districts (like pushing the First into Baltimore City and the Sixth into Montgomery County) they may achieve that goal – a nightmare scenario for the Maryland GOP.

Trust me, I think the die is cast already. But we should put our opposition on the record and perhaps use this momentum to fundraise for a court fight.

A sound Congressional map

Come this fall, the Maryland General Assembly will take a little time from figuring out devious ways to raise our taxes and usurp a little more of our freedom to finalize Congressional district lines for next year’s elections.

But someone with the Maryland Republican Party came up with a “good government map” which may be the most logical dissection of the state we’ll see in this round. The beauty of it is how well it matches up with existing geographic lines. For example, the First District as the Republicans see it would consist of 10 full counties and just a tiny slice of Anne Arundel County. And instead of slicing our capital county into several districts, the Republican plan would put all but the small section destined for the First District into the Third District. Seventeen of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City would be in just one Congressional district, while no county would be in more than three (Baltimore County would be split mostly between the Second and Sixth Districts, with a few areas close by Baltimore City placed into its Seventh District.)

An interesting sidebar for local voters (and something of a surprise coming from a GOP plan) is the fact that Andy Harris would no longer live in the district he represents – the Baltimore County resident would be close by the line separating the Second and Sixth Districts. But the map would also probably place Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes in the same Second District as well as pairing Donna Edwards and Steny Hoyer in the Fifth, so the GOP plan is likely DOA in the General Assembly. Still, the way the Republicans drew the map makes a lot of sense because districts are compact and geographically sound – if they place two incumbent Democrats in the same district, that’s the breaks. I guarantee you the Democrats who run the process will slice and dice the state willy-nilly to create as much havoc among Republicans as possible – gerrymandering with a capital G.

Apparently the state’s residents will get a chance to have their say as well, so now may be the time to come up with a good, sound plan. I think the GOP has succeeded on that count.