Maryland's Redistricting News
(March 16, 2001-October 18, 2001)

 

 Washington Post: "Majority-Black District Would Draw From Pinsky's Territory." October 18, 2001
 Washington Post: "Majority-Black District Proposed For Prince George's." October 11, 2001
 Washington Times: "GOP Touts Benefits to Minorities in Maryland Redistricting Plans." September 25, 2001
 Baltimore Sun: "GOP Districts Stop at City Line." September 15, 2001
 Baltimore Sun: "GOP Welcomes Duncan's Idea for Subdistricts." September 11, 2001
 The Gazette: "Praise, concern for single-member plan.
" September 7, 2001
 Washington Post:  "Md. GOP Wants to Break Up Districts."  September 5, 2001
 Associated Press:  "Political sway on the line."  September 3, 2001
 The Gazette : "Consider proportional representation system." August 29, 2001
 Washington Post: "Balancing Diversity, Politics in Redistricting: Some Fear Plans May Hurt Minorities." August 23, 2001
 Washington Post : "Md. Democrats Target Frederick Senator." August 20, 2001
 Washington Post: "Md. Black Lawmakers Seek Parity In Assembly." August 16, 2001
 Washington Post: "Drawing New District Lines Presents Puzzles for Democrats." August 12, 2001
 The Bulletin's Frontrunner: "MD8: State Senate President Says Morella Is 'Gone.'" July 24, 2001
 Washington Post: "When They Draw Lines." July 13, 2001
 Washington Post: "Democratic Remapping Plan Targets Morella's District Adding 2 Montgomery Seats Among Ideas to Win Clout." July 7, 2001

 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." June 11, 2001

 Associated Press: "Democrats Target Morella's Seat With New Districts." March 16, 2001     

More Recent Maryland Redistricting News

Washington Post
Majority-Black District Would Draw From Pinsky's Territory
By Eugene L. Meyer
October 18, 2001

Prince George's lawmakers are scrambling to protect state Sen. Paul G. Pinsky from a reapportionment plan that would draw largely from his district to create a new district that is majority-black.

The Senate delegation Pinsky heads has recommended a reconfiguration that would create the district in an area bordering Northeast Washington. Much of that area is now in Pinsky's 22nd District.

Pinsky (D-University Park) supports a new black-majority district for the county, where the black population rose from 50.7 to 62.7 percent in the 1990s. He also wants to keep his seat.

"I'm happy to give up some of my district to add a new minority district," said Pinsky, who said he expects others to yield precincts to him in return.

To make the districts approximately equal, as the Constitution requires, each must represent 112,000 residents, give or take 5 percent. If Pinsky loses a large number of constituents, he must add others.

In the most likely scenario, precincts would be pulled from the 23rd District, represented by state Sen. Leo E. Green (D). As a result of growth in the 1990s, the district, which includes Bowie and Greenbelt, has 128,437 residents, 14 percent over the maximum 112,691 residents allowed.

Another source would be the 21st District, represented by state Sen. Arthur Dorman (D-Beltsville). Dorman's district would have to move north and incorporate Laurel, now part of a district shared with Howard County.

"I'm going to have to lose part of Chillum, it looks like," Dorman said. Chillum would be in the new district under the plan. "I can live with that because I pick up the 13B District in Laurel, and most in Laurel think I represent them anyway."

Prince George's has three state senators and 10 delegates who are black and one who is Filipino American, out of 29 legislators.There are no Hispanics in the legislative delegation, despite the growing Latino population, particularly in the northwestern part of the county.

A new majority-black district would bring to four the number of legislators who are predominantly black. Under the new plan, there would be seven legislative districts, all contained in the county.

The Senate delegation has "a complete consensus on creating the new district," Pinsky said. "We don't have a complete consensus on how that plays out. When all is said and done, every district will look a little different, some more than others."

The House delegation, led by Del. Rushern L. Baker III, had recommended another plan that would maintain the status quo, but he now says his delegation would welcome the new district.

Baker (D-Cheverly), who lives within the likely boundaries of the district, has said he is not interested in running for the Maryland Senate. He said a new district would present an opportunity to "bring in some new blood." He said Bladensburg Mayor David C. Harrington -- who has expressed interest in running for the County Council -- might be just the person for the job.

"If it came by my way and people wanted to talk to me about it, I wouldn't throw them out of the room," said Harrington, a Democrat.

Meanwhile, the governor's advisory committee on redistricting hasn't yet formally met. The panel, appointed by the governor, includes the leaders of the Senate and House, two county commissioners and the Maryland secretary of state.

The panel must recommend a plan this fall to Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who will submit a plan to the Legislature on Jan. 9. That plan becomes law in 45 days unless the General Assembly enacts its own plan.

Whatever plan is adopted -- subject to any court challenge -- will take effect in September 2002, before the elections.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D), a key member of the governor's advisory panel, said he supports creating a majority-black district. But Miller, whose 27th District includes parts of Calvert and Anne Arundel and most of southern Prince George's, said redistricting in other sections of the state must be completed first.

"The hard part is you can't start in the middle of the state and agree upon something," Miller said. "You have to start from the extremities and come in. . . . You settle the [Eastern] Shore, Western Maryland, Southern Maryland, then you know what to work with."

Pinsky, an outspoken liberal, said he doesn't take the redistricting process personally. "As much as I've been a critic," he said, "I don't get the sense at all that I'm on the chopping block."

Washington Post
Majority-Black District Proposed For Prince George's; Assembly Plan Reflects Population Surge
By Eugene L. Meyer
October 11, 2001

Maryland lawmakers have quietly crafted a plan to give Prince George's County a new, majority-black legislative district, reflecting the county's growing African American population and potentially increasing the number of minority lawmakers in the State House.

While African Americans have moved into other suburban counties, their numbers in those counties aren't concentrated or large enough to justify predominantly black districts, legislators say.

The black-majority legislative district for Prince George's already has the support of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., a critical player in the redistricting process. The new district would reflect the county's increased African American population, now at 62 percent. It also is likely to increase the county's clout in Annapolis by adding a senator and three delegates from Prince George's.

The district could offset the possible loss of a district in majority-black Baltimore, which shed 84,860 residents in the 1990s. It would run along the border with Northeast Washington and would draw largely from the state Senate district now represented by Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George's).

"The only place you could pick up a Senate seat and have the opportunity to elect an African American is Prince George's," said Del. Rushern L. Baker III (D-Prince George's), chairman of the county's House delegation. Maryland's African American population rose about 3 percent in the 1990s.

"It's certainly doable, and I think if it were to happen, House members wouldn't be upset," Baker said.

The redrawing of legislative districts is necessary because Prince George's County grew by 72,247 residents in the 1990s, according to the latest census, to a total population of 801,515. Each legislative district must have 112,691 residents, give or take 5 percent, but some now have more.

Prince George's has three state senators and 10 delegates who are African American -- a total of 13 out of 29 legislators. The county has six legislative districts, each with a state senator and three delegates. It shares two other districts with neighboring counties. The new district would be contained in Prince George's.

"A lot of my colleagues are saying we provide the largest number of Democratic votes in statewide elections and that should be recognized," said Pinsky, chairman of the Prince George's state Senate delegation, which proposed adding the district.

The redistricting process includes public hearings, which were held by a state advisory panel in August and September. But much also occurs behind the scenes, and Miller has said he will push to create the Prince George's district.

The five-member state panel, appointed by the governor, must recommend a plan this fall. That panel is chaired by Secretary of State John T. Willis and also includes Miller (D-Prince George's), House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany), Montgomery County Council member Isiah Leggett (D-At Large) and Worcester County Commissioner Louise L. Gulyas, the only Republican.

On Jan. 9, Glendening must submit a plan to the General Assembly for approval. The plan automatically becomes law on the 45th day of the Assembly -- Feb. 23, 2002 -- unless the legislature enacts its own plan before.

In Maryland, where Democrats control the legislature and governor's office, Republicans can push for new districts but have little say in the outcome. This year, Republicans are promoting a plan to have 141 single-member districts to increase minority representation.

Miller, a member of the Prince George's Senate delegation, opposes the Republican plan and supports a new district in Prince George's that "would be made into a full African American seat."

While Miller said that "no [formal] decisions have been made yet," he outlined in great detail how the new Prince George's district would be configured.

Del. Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore), chairman of the 38-member Legislative Black Caucus, said he supports the new majority-black district for Prince George's.

"We feel good about that," he said. He also recognizes that Baltimore is likely to lose representation but promised to "fight like the dickens" the loss of a majority-black district there.

Legislators from Prince George's are concerned about finding a way to preserve Pinsky's seat.

The process is further complicated by the fact that the county has 26 municipalities, which don't like to be split between districts. Crossing county lines is another delicate matter. Miller and Pinsky had sought to incorporate Takoma Park into the proposed district but dropped the idea after Montgomery County politicians objected.

In carving out a new district, Pinsky said, "sometimes someone's ox gets gored. You don't want it to be your own, but you realize there is some give and take. I'm happy to give up some of my district to add a new minority district."

Washington Times
GOP Touts Benefits to Minorities in Maryland Redistricting Plans
By Tom Stuckey
September 25, 2001

Republicans have joined the legislative redistricting fight with a plan they say would give minorities a better chance of representation in the Maryland House of Delegates.

But Democratic leaders say the only minority that would benefit would be the Republican Party, which holds just 35 seats in the 141-member House.

The heart of the GOP's plan is a proposal to elect every House member from a separate district, a major departure from current practice.

The state is now divided into 47 Senate districts that include one senator and three delegates. In 34 of those districts, the three House members are elected at-large. The other districts are subdivided into two or three House districts, usually in rural areas where Senate districts cross county boundaries.

The effect of multiple-member districts has been to deny minorities the ability to elect members to the House, Michael Steele, Maryland Republican Party chairman, said Monday.

"The current system effectively locks them out," Mr. Steele said. "The Democrats want minority voters. They just don't want them at the table."

House Speaker Casper Taylor and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, both Democrats, vehemently disagree.

Mr. Miller, District 27, said the plan is a hypocritical attempt by Republicans to increase their own numbers under the guise of helping minorities.

Mr. Taylor, District 1, said the premise behind the Republican proposal "is horribly divisive and a giant step backward."

"It's pretty transparent what the proposal is all about," Mr. Taylor said. "It's all about partisan politics. It's not about minority politics."

Since blacks are the most reliable Democratic voting block in Maryland, there is some advantage for Republicans in compacting them into overwhelmingly black districts and some advantage to Democrats of moving black voters into majority white districts where they can help overcome a Republican edge among white voters.

The Republican plan released Friday includes 39 House districts where minorities blacks, Hispanics and Asians make up more than 50 percent of the population. There are currently 29 black members of the House and two Asians.

Mr. Steele said minorities will have the opportunity to elect representatives in each of those 39 districts at the 2002 election.

But in six of those districts, whites would make up the largest voting block, and minority groups would, if voting occurs along racial lines, have to band together to guarantee election of a minority delegate.

"There is no guarantee that any community is going to elect Hispanics, African-Americans or even white folks, for that matter," Mr. Steele said. "What it does is offer those ethnic groups the chance to run their own candidates and be competitive."

Mr. Taylor, one of five members of the committee that will draft a proposed redistricting plan for Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Democrat, said the number of black delegates probably will increase after the 2002 election, in any event. He said there also is a good chance "without artificially tampering with the system" that Hispanics will dominate a Montgomery County district.

Mr. Steele acknowledged that single-member districts can help Republicans in some areas of the state, but "this isn't about empowering Republicans, which a lot of Democrats want to say."

Since Democrats will control the redistricting process when the governor and legislature adopt new district boundaries next year, Republican leaders don't expect their plan to be adopted. But it could form the basis for a challenge to the constitutionality of multimember districts if the Republican Party decides to contest the redistricting plan in court.

Baltimore Sun
GOP Districts Stop at City Line; Redistricting plan would end sharing of legislators with county; Cut in representation
By Michael Dresser
September 15, 2001

The Maryland Republican Party is proposing a redistricting plan that would sharply cut Baltimore's representation in Annapolis - from 10 Senate districts to six - all contained strictly within city lines and all with African-American majorities. The Republicans are calling it an attempt to maximize minority representation. Democrats are calling it "segregation."

The plan, which the GOP is preparing to present to the governor's redistricting commission, contrasts sharply with other proposals that seek to preserve the city's political power in the face of significant population losses. There are now 10 state senators whose districts lie wholly or partly in Baltimore.

The Republican plan stands no chance of adoption by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who must propose a plan on the opening day of the legislative session in January, and by the Democratic-dominated General Assembly, which will have 45 days to approve that plan or substitute one of its own.

But GOP leaders, who expect Glendening to draw lines for maximum partisan advantage, are threatening to challenge any Democratic-drawn plan in court and to advance their proposed map as an alternative. "The courts will look favorably upon it," said state Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele.

Herbert C. Smith, a political science professor at Western Maryland College, said that normally the courts shy away from "the political thicket" of redistricting. But he noted that Republican challenges to Democratic redistricting plans have been successful in some Southern states and that the success of the GOP plan could depend on which federal judge is assigned to the case.

The final decision on Maryland's once-a-decade redistricting could be made in the conservative 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., or in the Supreme Court.

Democratic leaders are denouncing the Republican proposal as a plan to disenfranchise African-Americans. "It is mean-spirited. It is divisive, and it's a Republican Party dirty trick to pack minorities into as small a population as possible," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Prince George's County Democrat.

Smith, a leading expert on Maryland politics, was no less harsh in his judgment, calling the plan "political Balkanization" and "inappropriate." State GOP leader Steele, an African-American from Prince George's County, said the city's power would not be diminished if its lawmakers represent their constituents effectively. "There are winners and losers in everything," he said.

"They've lost over 100,000 people in the city. You can't maintain the same level of representation," he said. "It's unfair to those jurisdictions that have gained in population."

Baltimore's population has declined by 84,860 - to 651,154 - between the 1990 and 2000 censuses, continuing a slide that has been going on for decades. In the 1970s, Baltimore had 11 senators - all in districts within city lines. In the 1980s, that number was reduced to nine.

After the 1990 census, Democratic leaders moved to preserve the city's power in Annapolis by reaching beyond jurisdictional boundaries and drawing five districts that crossed into Baltimore County - bringing the number of districts with some city residents up to 10.

That plan, which governed the 1994 and 1998 elections, has helped maintain the diversity and political power of the Baltimore delegation. Baltimore is represented by six African-American and four white senators - all Democrats.

They include such key players as Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, chairman of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee; Majority Leader Clarence W. Blount, who chairs the Education, Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee; and Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, chairman of the Finance Committee.

In contrast to the GOP redistricting plan, a plan being drafted by the city's African-American senators would keep eight Senate seats representing the city. Three districts would lie entirely within city lines, while five others would straddle the city-county line.

The Republican plan would jeopardize the political careers of Baltimore's two most powerful legislators, Hoffman and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Howard P. Rawlings. Both lawmakers have used their positions to protect the city's interests in state budget decisions.

Hoffman, who is white, would lose her county precincts and be forced into a Senate district with a large African-American majority. Rawlings, who is black, would be pushed into a single-member subdistrict with three other delegates.

The plan would also put Bromwell's district entirely in the county, and pit Sen. Perry Sfikas, who is white, against Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, an African-American, in a black-majority 46th District. Sen. George W. Della Jr., a white Democrat who represents southern Baltimore, would be thrown into a redrawn 43rd District with black incumbents Blount, Ralph M. Hughes and Clarence M. Mitchell IV.

Steele said a black majority district would not necessarily elect an African-American legislator. "Black folks will elect white folks," he said. "Black folks will elect people who represent their interests."

The plan would also cut the number of delegates with all or part of their districts in the city from 29 to 18. All would be elected from single-member subdistricts - three of which would have white majorities.

The city's current House delegation is made up of 16 African-Americans and 13 whites.

The 2000 census put Baltimore's population at 64 percent black and 31 percent white. Under the GOP plan, none of the city's Senate districts and 17 percent of House subdistricts would have white majorities.

The Republican plan and the Democrats' stated intentions show a basic disagreement on the political relationship of the city and Baltimore County.

To Steele, the two jurisdictions should have separate representation because "urban needs are very different from suburban needs."

"Baltimore County is not Baltimore City," he said. "I don't think it works in the best interests of the people in the city to have their interests diluted."

But Miller, a member of the redistricting commission, defended the state's decision to draw city-county districts a decade ago. "It was about saving and enhancing an urban center," he said.

Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat, said he opposed the idea of shared districts when they were proposed but has changed his mind. "It allowed us to form a large bloc of votes that helped to improve our ability to receive state money that we weren't getting in the past," he said.

Del. Talmadge Branch, a Baltimore Democrat who heads the Legislative Black Caucus, said it is not in the city's best interests to send a nearly all-black delegation to Annapolis. "We should not have a total black city," he said. "We need to have a cross-section of whites representing the city."

Baltimore Sun
GOP Welcomes Duncan's Idea for Subdistricts
By Michael Dresser and Jeff Barker
September 11, 2001

Plans: The Montgomery Democrat's proposal to increase minority representation seems to blend with one by the Republicans' for single-member districts.

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan stepped into a political minefield last week when he urged the governor's redistricting commission to draw single-member districts to make it easier for minorities in his increasingly diverse jurisdiction to win seats in the House of Delegates.

The Democratic executive's proposal was an issue because it seemed to echo the state Republican Party's drive for three single-member subdistricts in each of the state's 47 Senate districts. Michael A. Steele, state GOP chairman, presented his party's proposal for 141 individual districts statewide as a way to increase minority representation in the legislature. The governor and General Assembly must redraw district lines next year to reflect population figures gathered in the 2000 census.

Duncan's suggestion was welcomed by Republicans, who played up the news on the party Web site.

The GOP is attempting to create a public groundswell in support of single-member districts as a way of enhancing their prospects in the House. Democrats control the chamber by a 106-35 margin.

Republicans say they recognize there is no chance that Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the Assembly will buy into their plan, but they are using it to drive a wedge between Democratic leadership and African-Americans focused on increasing their numbers in the legislature. GOP leaders also hope that judges will look favorably on their map if they can persuade the courts to throw out a Democratic redistricting plan in an all-but-inevitable court challenge.

Duncan said he's not joining the statewide GOP crusade or even calling for single-member districts throughout his county. But he wants the commission to recommend subdistricts in areas where they could make it easier for minorities to be elected to the House. "The elected officials should reflect the population of the county," Duncan said.

Three-member House districts are the norm in Maryland, but the law also permits single-member and two-member districts.

In theory, subdistricts are used to assure that certain geographical areas can elect their resident delegates. But they are generally used where they advance the interests of the party in power.

Steele's plan is opposed by Democrats because it would throw many incumbents - most of them Democrats - into subdistricts that could force them to run against each other. At the same time, it would create other districts with no incumbents, opening up opportunities for Republicans.

Montgomery has experienced significant growth in its Asian, African-American and Hispanic populations and is about 60 percent white. But increasing minority representation is a challenge because the county is relatively integrated and its delegation includes many popular white incumbents.

The eight senators are white. Of 24 delegates, 23 are white, and one is Asian-American. Six in the delegation are Republicans.

Duncan said census figures put the population at 15 percent African-American, 12 percent Asian-American and 12 percent Hispanic. He noted the Silver Spring-Wheaton and Rockville-Gaithersburg as areas with a concentration of minority voters.

The Gazette
Praise, concern for single-member plan: GOP seeks to split districts, boost minority representation
By Walter Lee Dozier
September 7, 2001

A proposal by Maryland Republicans to increase minority representation in Annapolis by creating single-member legislative districts is gathering steam -- from Democrats as well as Republicans, from voters as well as elected officials.

It also has some Democratic leaders concerned.

State Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele outlined the plan Wednesday night at the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee meeting at Prince George's Community College in Largo.

Steele's plan would split the state's 47 Senate districts into 141 smaller sub-districts for the House of Delegates to increase the chances of racial, ethnic and political -- read Republican -- minorities to be elected in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

Prince George's County, the nation's most affluent majority-black county, potentially would increase its minority representation from 10 delegates to 15 and its senators from three to five, according to the map Steele presented.

Maryland's legislative districts are multiple-member districts represented by three delegates and one senator. Under Steele's plan, the larger district would be divided into three separate districts for the delegates. Sens. Gloria G. Lawlah (D-Dist. 26) of Hillcrest, Nathaniel Exum (D-Dist. 24) of Capitol Heights and Ulysses Currie (D-Dist. 25) of Forestville reminded the redistricting commission that African Americans in Prince George's County have been the state's most loyal Democratic Party supporters and voters.

While race is no longer the only consideration in the redistricting process, it is still important, said Lawlah, who has been instrumental in discussions about both preserving and increasing minority representation in the State House.

"Statewide elections succeed or fail at her door," she said, referring to the importance of county voters in elections.

Former state senator and Prince George's County power broker Tommie Broadwater (D) said he supports exploring Steele's plan.

"Single-member districts would benefit us," he said. "If we represent 70 percent of the population, we want 70 percent of the action."

Virginia Kellogg of Mitchellville, an African American and a Republican, said people at Wednesday's meeting were intrigued by the proposal.

"They responded very well to Michael Steele's comments," she said. "His comments went beyond party lines."

Other counties

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D), who is weighing a run for governor next year, was expected to throw his support behind targeted single-member districts at the redistricting panel's final public hearing in Rockville Thursday night. The hearing began after The Gazette's deadline, too late for complete details. The strategy could help bolster minority representation in certain districts in Montgomery, Maryland's largest jurisdiction, Duncan said.

The county's 40-member delegation to the General Assembly has only one sitting minority member: Del. Kumar P. Barve (D-Dist. 17) of Gaithersburg, an Indian American.

"Other than one person of Asian descent in the House of Delegates, our state legislative delegation includes no other minorities," Duncan said at the hearing. "We need to change that."

But Montgomery County Councilman Isiah Leggett (D-At large) of Burtonsville, a member of the governor's redistricting commission and an African American, has been cool to the idea of single-member districts. Barve said that while he supports the idea of majority-minority districts, he is not convinced single-member districts are the way to go, especially in Montgomery County.

"We have done such a good job of spreading ethnic minorities around the county that there are not a lot of big concentrated areas," Barve said. "Functionally, there is not a great difference between getting elected in a multi- or single-member district. The greatest challenge to getting elected is incumbency."

Barve said he prefers the multimember districts because it takes the bitterness and in-fighting out of politics. They are "less intimidating," he said.

Barve said that several years ago there was a bill before the legislature to consider single-member districts. "Race was not the issue of consideration in that bill," he said. "I voted against it because it would have made the Senate more powerful than the House." Barve said delegates would represent only a third of the district, effectively cutting their base, while the senators retained their district-wide base.

"I saw it as a state senators' re-election guarantee scheme. I don't know why a senator wouldn't support it," Barve said.

Democrats' criticism

Some senators do not. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach, a member of the governor's redistricting panel, called the Steele plan a "Republican dirty trick that dilutes minority representation and does not empower minority representation."

"The plan is divisive and mean-spirited," he said. "And it works to pack as many minorities into a district as possible. That works to empower right-wing Republicans in other areas." Miller has another reason to dislike Steele's plan; it kicks him out of Prince George's County, which he has represented for more than 25 years. Under Steele's plan, Miller would represent a district stretching from southern Anne Arundel County to include all of Calvert County and a portion of St. Mary's County.

House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Dist. 1C) of Cumberland, who is also on the redistricting panel, calls the proposal counterproductive.

"We are arguing for re-segregation," he said. "This country was built on the concept of a melting pot. Let's not use a system of segregation to create representative government."

"The purpose for our plan is to allow the voters greater access to their elected officials," said Paul Ellington, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. "We want to make House districts smaller and more accessible to the citizens and make sure politics is no longer the domain of the well-heeled and well-connected. We are empowering people so that the delegation will better reflect the population."

Criticism of Steele's plan upset Jerry J. Mathis of Fort Washington at Wednesday night's hearing.

"I'm appalled that you got defensive when Mr. Steele was presenting his proposal," said Mathis, a black man who described himself as a loyal Democrat. "I think this committee is tainted and that you are going to do whatever you want. We see the politics of the Democratic Party and we may need to rethink our vote."

Mathis also criticized the panel members.

"Look at the makeup of the committee. There are five of you and only one black, and he's on his way out [of politics]," he said, referring to Leggett, who has said he will not run for re-election next year. "What does that say?"

Staff Writers Josh Kurtz, Thomas Dennison and Theodore Kim contributed to this report.

Washington Post
Md. GOP Wants to Break Up Districts
By Lori Montgomery
September 5, 2001

The unusual system of three-member districts used to elect most Maryland legislators is under attack by Republicans and some black lawmakers who say it protects incumbent white Democrats at the expense of blacks and other minority candidates.

Maryland's state legislature is among the least reflective of the diversity of the people it represents. Although about 27 percent of Maryland's voting-age population is African American, just 21 percent of state delegates and 19 percent of state senators are black, putting Maryland on a par with a handful of far more conservative states such as Georgia and Virginia.

The evidence is starkest in Prince George's County, where black residents are densely packed into three of eight legislative districts. Minority candidates win easily in those areas but struggle in others where the population is racially mixed and they must run at-large against better-known and better-financed white candidates.

As a result, Prince George's County -- the nation's most affluent majority-black county, with a total minority population of nearly 75 percent -- is represented in the General Assembly by 13 blacks, one Filipino and 15 whites.

Now, pressure is building to increase minority strength in Annapolis. As Gov. Parris N. Glendening and other Democratic leaders begin the once-a-decade process of redrawing the state's political map, the Republican Party is launching an aggressive campaign to scrap three-member House districts and replace them with smaller, single-member districts that could give minority candidates a better chance to win and minority voters a better chance to be heard.

"Currently, there are 47 legislative districts. We want 141" -- a separate district for every House member, said Maryland Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele, who will unveil the party's redistricting plan at a public hearing tonight at Prince George's Community College.

The plan, Steele said, would create at least 38 House districts where a majority of voters are black or Hispanic, substantially increasing the chances of electing minority candidates. It would include 17 such districts in Prince George's County and at least three in Montgomery County, where minorities comprise 40 percent of the population but only one of 26 senators and delegates.

"This would break up the old boy network," Steele said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany) defended the current system, which breaks the state into 47 districts, each represented by one senator and three delegates, most of whom are elected by voters in the entire district.

Miller and Taylor said drawing single-member districts would produce lawmakers who are narrowly focused on provincial interests instead of the good of the state. Both accused Steele of focusing on race to disguise the fact that his plan would also boost the number of Republicans in office.

The GOP holds just a quarter of the General Assembly's 188 seats. Steele would not say how many majority Republican districts his plan would create.

Secretary of State John T. Willis, chairman of the governor's redistricting commission, said the state can draw new lines that could result in the election of more black legislators without resorting to single-member districts. "The governor is very aware -- everyone on the commission is very aware -- that the African American population went up by 3 percent in Maryland from 1990 to 2000," Willis said. "Golly, give us a chance to adjust our lines."

But some black Democrats are intrigued by single-member districts. The Legislative Black Caucus is studying the idea, at least for Prince George's, Howard and a handful of other counties. And the state branch of the NAACP is doing the same, according to black lawmakers and civil rights activists.

"I do think smaller districts would enhance the chances of getting more minorities into the General Assembly," said Del. Obie Patterson (D-Prince George's), a black caucus member who is holding community meetings to generate interest in the idea. "It costs money to run a full-district campaign. For someone just coming into the political arena, it's not easy."

Maryland is one of only seven states that elects most legislators through a multi-member system. Of those, it is the only state that draws districts for more than two members. Thirty-eight states, including Virginia, elect their lower chambers exclusively from single-member districts.

In general, civil rights advocates consider single-member districts to be the most effective for maximizing minority voting strength. In dozens of voting rights cases, courts have ordered states to create single-member districts in place of larger, multi-member districts where white voters consistently prevent a sizable minority population from electing its preferred candidate.

After the 1990 redistricting, for example, Maryland civil rights groups challenged two Eastern Shore districts, arguing that state officials had illegally diluted black votes in and around Salisbury.

In 1994, a panel of federal judges agreed and ordered the state to create a single-member district dominated by black voters. The new district promptly elected Democrat Rudolph C. Cane, the first black legislator from the Eastern Shore.

As a whole, however, the Maryland system has never been directly challenged in court, and it is unclear how it would fare. Though black voters are underrepresented in Annapolis, they are not legally entitled to proportional representation absent other evidence of discrimination.

"Multi-member districts are not automatically at odds with the U.S. Voting Rights Act," said Tim Storey, a redistricting analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Steele said he is willing to test the system in court but hopes to avoid a legal battle. Instead, Republicans plan to hold a series of meetings across the state to pressure Glendening, Miller and Taylor to improve minority representation.

The gap between the percentage of legislative seats held by African Americans in Maryland and the percentage of blacks in the state's voting-age population is 7 percentage points -- compared with 4 percentage points nationally. That's worse than just six other states, including Virginia, where the gap is 8 percentage points, according to data from the Center for Voting and Democracy, a Takoma Park-based group dedicated to increasing minority voting strength.

Maryland adopted three-member districts after a rancorous decade-long political battle touched off when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's Civil War-era system in 1964.

At the time, Maryland "was probably the most maldistricted state in the nation," said Kathryn Roe, an assistant attorney general who advises state lawmakers.

The Senate had 29 seats, one for each county and six for the City of Baltimore. House seats were apportioned by a complicated formula that favored rural counties. In 1960, the five most populous counties, with three-fourths of the state's population, accounted for only a third of the Senate and less than half of the House.

In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Supreme Court found that Maryland disenfranchised voters in the City of Baltimore and in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Warren noted "the existence of a rural stranglehold on the legislature in Maryland [that] closely parallels the situation existing in Alabama," then the focus of an increasingly violent campaign for black civil rights.

Ordered to fix the system in line with "one man, one vote" principles, the General Assembly battled through three governors before settling on the current process.

Three-member districts were approved by voters in 1972. Since then, state leaders have broken 39 districts into smaller one- and two-member units, usually to prevent House districts from crossing county lines.

In at least one Prince George's district, a single-member district was drawn specifically to increase black representation, Willis said.

As a whole, Prince George's District 22 is 52 percent black. But for House races, it was carved into two separate districts, a single-member district that is 72 percent black -- 22B -- and a two-member district that is 44 percent black.

District 22B is represented by Del. Rushern Baker, who is black. District 22A is represented by two white Democrats, Del. Anne Healey and Del. Richard A. Palumbo.

Steele argues that the district was created more to protect Healey and Palumbo than to benefit Baker. "The system is structured to keep districts white enough [for white incumbents] to win the Democratic primary and black enough [for Democrats] to win the general election," Steele said.

"We're hoping to start a debate about whether this is what the map should look like, so voters are not just adequately represented, but aptly represented in the state legislature."

The Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee will conduct a hearing tonight at Prince George's Community College, 301 Largo Rd., Largo. A hearing will be held tomorrow night at Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville. Both meetings begin at 7.

Associated Press
Political sway on the line
By Tom Stuckey
September 3, 2001

The Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee soon will end its traveling road show around Maryland and start determining where to draw new political lines for electing members of Congress and the General Assembly

Those decisions, if accepted by Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the legislature, could give Democrats six of the state's eight congressional seats instead of the four they now have.

"Maryland Democrats are not pussycats. They have sharp claws," said Delegate Robert L. Flanagan, Howard Republican.

New district lines could determine whether Republicans continue to increase their numbers in the legislature as they did in the 1980s and early 1990s. They also will play a major role in determining whether more blacks serve in the Senate and House of Delegates.

The drawing of new districts after the national census every 10 years is considered the political equivalent of the Super Bowl.

"It's very important because the purpose of redistricting is to ensure that every voter has an equal voice in electing state legislators and federal congressmen," Mr. Flanagan said.

It is equally important on a partisan basis because it can influence whether Democrats or Republicans are elected, he said.

The five-member advisory committee, which expects to submit plans to the governor in November, faces a daunting task.

It must draw new lines for eight congressional districts that, according to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, must be near the ideal congressional district population of 662,061.

It also will propose new lines for 47 senatorial districts and, in some cases, divide those districts into subdistricts for House of Delegates elections.

Those districts can vary by about 5 percent from the ideal population of 112,691.

Secretary of State John Willis, chairman of the advisory committee, said drawing district lines is difficult because of the ripple effect that comes from shifting voters to meet population guidelines.

"If you do something in one area, you inevitably affect another area," he said. Redistricting is something akin to putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle whose pieces can fit into several different places.

The committee also includes House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., Allegany Democrat; Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George's Democrat; Montgomery County Council member Isiah Leggett, Democrat; and Council member Louise Gulyas, Worcester County Republican.

The first of 12 public meetings was held in Salisbury in June. The last will be Thursday in Montgomery County.

Cynics argue that the road show is just that -- a show intended to give citizens the false impression that they have some input into the process. Mr. Willis insists that is not the case.

"There is not, quote, a plan that's already been done and that the governor and the legislative leaders have agreed on. That's just not true," he said.

But no one disagrees that the final decisions will be made by Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, and Mr. Taylor and Mr. Miller.

The governor's plan for legislative districts will be submitted to the legislature next year and likely will be accepted without change. Lawmakers can revise it or produce their own, but because of the tangled politics involved, it would be difficult for the two chambers to agree on a substitute.

Mr. Glendening's plan also will be the starting point for drawing new congressional districts. Mr. Taylor expressed confidence that he, Mr. Miller and Mr. Glendening will reach a consensus on both plans.

Democrats, solidly in control in Maryland, are drawing up plans to increase their numbers in Congress and the legislature.

Party leaders believe they can go from a 4-4 congressional split with Republicans to at least a 5-3 advantage by drawing new congressional districts. Some party leaders believe they could even win a sixth seat if the lines are drawn the right way.

The easiest target is Republican U.S. Rep. Constance A. Morella, who represents Montgomery County, a normally reliable Democratic district.

Some proposals also call for putting Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in either a western Maryland district with Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett or the 1st Congressional District with Republican Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest.

Mr. Taylor dismisses as "absurd" talk of a district extending eastward from Garrett County and looping down into Baltimore County where Mr. Ehrlich lives, with part of Frederick and perhaps Washington counties going into another district.

The Eastern Shore counties are expected to remain together in the 1st Congressional District. But the district may incorporate Harford County and portions of Baltimore County instead of crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as it now does, to pick up part of Anne Arundel County.

A major issue concerning legislative districts is whether to break up the 47 Senate districts into 141 House districts.

In most cases, voters now elect one senator and three delegates, although there are a few one- or two-member districts.

Republicans, who hold 35 House seats, want single-member House districts, believing that would help them increase their representation.

If the governor refuses to recommend single-member districts, Republicans may sue to get multi-member districts declared unconstitutional, said House Minority Leader Robert H. Kittleman, Howard Republican.

Republican leaders are expecting the worst and know they are powerless to do anything about redistricting without court help.

"It's not a foregone conclusion in other states that it will be excessively partisan, but it certainly is in Maryland," Mr. Flanagan said.

Democrats say Republicans do the same thing when they are in control. In Virginia, for example, a Republican redistricting plan lumped 11 Democrats into five legislative districts and put two others in Republican strongholds.

Despite the talk of partisan politics, Mr. Willis said, the redistricting process still is driven by population figures.

"My estimate, being in the middle of the project, is that it's 85 percent numbers and 15 percent political," he said.

The Gazette
Consider proportional representation system
August 29, 2001

Kudos to The Gazette for identifying the problems inherent in redistricting. As the article and accompanying population maps revealed, the county faces severe redistricting obstacles because racial and ethnic populations are so well integrated that it's near impossible to create majority minority districts - the traditional American method of ensuring minority representation ("Minorities see redistricting as chance to change," Aug. 1).

With growing diversity and integration, Montgomery County represents social advancement and finds itself on the demographic cutting edge. As the county's redistricting conundrum shows, however, electing political representatives from winner-take-all geographic districts is in direct conflict with a well-integrated jurisdiction. County representation in Annapolis by only one minority out of 40 state officials should be viewed as Exhibit A.

Most world democracies have advanced to proportional election methods. Proportional representation election systems work on a simple premise: political representation is allocated according to the percent of votes received. Communities of interest, including minorities (racial, ethnic, political, etc.) need not be concentrated in a small geographic enclave to elect a candidate of choice. Rather, drawing on a larger geographic area, self-defined communities can back their favorite candidates - and a third of the votes, for example, elects roughly a third of the seats. Today, a third of the vote wins zero representation.

Eric C. Olson

The writer is deputy director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, a national, non-profit specializing in election reform and voting rights.

The Washington Post
Balancing Diversity, Politics in Redistricting: Some Fear Plans May Hurt Minorities
By Jo Becker
August 23, 2001

Jinhee Kim Wilde isn't looking for any special help from the Maryland politicians in charge of redrawing state legislative districts. By her calculations, the district she hopes to represent has a natural Asian political base that could help her become Montgomery County's first Korean American state delegate.

But as the state gets down to the business of redrawing political maps to reflect population shifts, Wilde and others are becoming increasingly concerned that the oft-stated goal of increasing the diversity of Montgomery County's legislative delegation will take a back seat to the desire to protect incumbent Democrats.

"We're not saying create a minority district," said Wilde, a Democratic activist who is running for state delegate from District 15, which runs along the county's western border and includes Potomac, North Potomac and parts of Germantown.

"But here you have an environment where minorities can succeed without gerrymandering, and what they are talking about doing is diluting the voting power of Asians to protect incumbents who are not minorities."

Across the nation, state and local governments are reviewing election districts in light of the 2000 Census results, a review held every 10 years. The idea is to divvy up population into districts of roughly equal size. In Maryland, the highly politicized process is run by the Democrats who control the General Assembly and the governor's office. Consequently, protecting Democratic incumbents while making life more difficult for Republicans is a major goal.

At the same time, the party is coming under increasing pressure to use redistricting to help increase minority representation in the Maryland General Assembly, with black Democrats saying they plan to push for additional seats for African Americans and the state's first black GOP chairman using the issue to try to woo minority Democrats.

Minorities make up 37.9 percent of the state's population, according to the 2000 Census. Yet out of 188 members of the General Assembly, only 38 are black, just two are Asian, and one is of Cuban descent.

Nowhere is the situation as pronounced as in Montgomery County, where minorities make up just over 40 percent of the population. Blacks make up 15.1 percent of the population, Asians make up 11.3 percent and Hispanics total 11.5 percent of the population. But the county's delegation includes no black or Latino lawmakers and one Asian Indian lawmaker.

"Those numbers are certainly not acceptable," said Henry Quintero, director of the Latino Civil Rights Center of Maryland.

Part of the difficulty is that Montgomery's integrated housing patterns make it practically impossible to draw a district where a single minority group will represent greater than 50 percent of the population, said County Council member Isiah Leggett (D-At Large), who sits on Gov. Parris N. Glendening's five-member redistricting advisory committee. Leggett, who is black, recently formed a group aimed at encouraging more minorities to run for office. But he said he tells potential candidates that they cannot expect to win without building coalitions across racial and ethnic lines.

Wilde fully expected to do just that.

Democrats in District 15 hoped that Wilde and another Asian American candidate could build on a natural base to increase diversity in the county's delegation as well as boost their party's numbers in Annapolis.

District 15's current population is 132,024. Asians are the district's largest minority group, making up just over 14 percent of the population. In some areas of the district there is an even higher concentration of Asians: North Potomac's population, for instance, is nearly 28 percent Asian.

The problem, however, is that District 15 must lose precincts because of gains in population. Democratic incumbents in neighboring districts, including the district represented by recent party-switcher Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, want to boost their own reelection chances by shedding some of their Republican-leaning precincts and adding some of District 15's Democratic-leaning ones.

Protecting Hogan's seat is a top priority for Democratic Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who wooed Hogan from the Republican Party late last year. Meanwhile, Democrats in District 15 have no incumbent Democrat to fight for them; it is currently represented by three Republicans and Democratic Del. Mark K. Shriver, who is vacating his seat to run for Congress.

Wilde and other district Democrats fear that to help Hogan and other incumbents, their party will write off the district to Republicans and in the process move heavily Asian Democratic-leaning precincts into other districts. That would be unfair in a district where Democrats have recently come extremely close to knocking off Republicans, said former County Council member Gail Ewing, a district activist who narrowly lost the 1998 District 15 Senate race.

"To neglect opportunities to help really vibrant candidates, both minorities and whites, because of incumbents' fears would be a real shame," Ewing said.

To combat such a move, the district is circulating its own map.

"Our plan gives all the districts good Democratic percentages and makes it possible for District 15 to elect Democrats," said district party activist Milt Minneman. "Our plan would also be more favorable than the present district alignment or the other plans we've heard about to an Asian American, or, for that matter, an African American or a Latino."

Leggett and others say that ways to increase diversity will be taken into consideration.

"It's probably too much to expect that the lawmakers who will vote on this will do so without their own interests entering into the equation," said state Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery County). "But putting that aside, I think that, within the confines of the Constitution, incumbent Democrats will be looking at ensuring that more Democrats get elected, and, with some luck, that those Democrats aren't just white males and females."

The Washington Post
Md. Democrats Target Frederick Senator: Outspoken Conservative Battles Annapolis's Power Players as Redistricting Begins
By Lori Montgomery
August 20, 2001

On the hottest day of the summer, with the next election 15 months away, the most controversial man in Maryland politics wheeled his Saturn sedan into a new Frederick subdivision, parked in the shade of a metal construction trailer and hopped out for a sweaty hour of hustling votes.

Dressed in shorts and a polo shirt, he jogged from door to door, introducing himself to those who answered, jotting notes for those who didn't: "Sorry I missed you! Thursday 4:22 p.m." Signed, state Sen. Alex X. Mooney.

By his own account, Mooney, 30, a clean-cut, Cuban-Irish, Dartmouth-educated, conservative Christian, has emerged since his 1998 election as Public Enemy No. 1 among the Democratic power brokers in Annapolis. Now they're coming after him, and Mooney said he'll have to knock on thousands of doors and raise a half-million dollars to survive in 2002.

In the decennial process to redraw legislative maps to reflect the latest census data, Mooney is among a handful of incumbent senators being targeted by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) and State House leaders. Some, like Mooney, are conservative Republicans; others are liberal Democrats. What they have in common is demographic vulnerability and an insufficient willingness to ingratiate themselves with the governor and other Democrats who hold a monopoly on power.

"The bottom line with Parris Glendening is very simple: You either are with him or against him, and it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican," said Michael Steele, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

The Democrats who control the redistricting process say they have two goals as they redraw Maryland's political map. The first is to divvy up the state's growing population into fair, sensible districts of roughly equal size. The second is to protect incumbents and increase the number of Democrats in office, particularly in Congress, where Maryland's eight-member delegation is evenly split.

"If the minority party is not hurt by the governor's redistricting plan, it's certainly not going to be helped," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has traveled the nation as chairman of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee to promote Democratic control of state legislatures.

"The same thing happens all over," Miller said, noting that 11 incumbent Democrats in Virginia announced their retirement this year after Republican Gov. James S. Gilmore III revealed his redistricting plan.

Partisanship aside, having a good relationship with Miller, Glendening or House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany) can be of critical importance, Miller and others said.

In Baltimore, for instance, the city's dwindling population guarantees the loss of at least one state Senate seat, maybe two. Whose ox to gore? Redistricting insiders say the top choice is Sen. Clarence Mitchell IV, a liberal Democrat and prickly backbencher considered untrustworthy by Senate colleagues. Last year, Mitchell angered Glendening by campaigning against a black judge whom Glendening had appointed to the Baltimore bench.

Similarly, loyal lawmakers expect to be protected and rewarded. State Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Montgomery), for example, has been such a good soldier that state leaders may add a congressional district in Montgomery County so he has a clear shot at becoming the fifth Democrat in Congress.

"Absolutely, personality plays a part" in redistricting decisions, Miller said. "Personality and your effectiveness on behalf of your constituents are very important."

On either count, it would be hard to rank lower than Mooney. Even if he weren't a "mean-spirited, ultra right-wing, far-right conservative," as Miller put it, the senator from Frederick would be in trouble.

When he showed up in Annapolis in January 1999 after scoring a stunning victory over Sen. John Derr, a well-liked Republican moderate, Mooney, who had worked for conservatives on Capitol Hill, remembers being amazed by the bipartisan bonhomie.

"The Democrats were nice to me," he recalled.

He was assigned to the Judicial Proceedings Committee, where chairman Walter Baker, a conservative Democrat from rural Cecil County, took a shine to the bright, young Republican. Miller, too, said he offered Mooney advice.

But Mooney a bachelor on the prowl for a traditional woman who will eschew birth control, quit her job and raise his children won election as an uncompromising moralist. He beat Derr by criticizing votes in favor of partial-birth abortion, free needles for drug addicts and higher taxes. Mooney didn't want to "go along to get along" with Democratic leaders, and he soon began to lob grenades.

During the 2000 session, Mooney led a floor fight against Glendening's bill to mandate built-in trigger-locks on new handguns. This year, he bucked both Baker and the administration on two highly contentious bills, aligning himself with the black caucus in support of a death-penalty moratorium and leading the fight to block Glendening's proposal to prohibit discrimination against homosexuals.

Mooney lost those battles, and he did not lose graciously. In March, he publicly criticized Baker for failing to kill the gay-rights bill. Last month, Baker asked Miller to remove Mooney from his committee.

"I tried to work with him, tried to coach him," Baker said in an interview. "But in order to be successful in Annapolis, you've got to be a team player."

Miller is working to oblige Baker, but the Democrats who chair the other three Senate standing committees aren't eager to accept Mooney, either.

"He has this take-no-prisoners type of mentality. Shoot the wounded," Miller said. "When you have that type of mentality, you don't make a whole lot of friends."

Miller denied that he will target Mooney when he draws new lines for Senate District 3, which stretches from Frederick north through Washington County to the Pennsylvania border. But others expect the Democrats to lop off heavily Republican precincts in Washington County and tack on some Democratic areas near Brunswick to make Mooney's district friendlier to Del. Sue Hecht (D-Frederick), who said she is "seriously considering" mounting a challenge.

Hecht has accused Mooney of focusing on high-profile conservative issues at the expense of nuts and bolts local politics, noting that he failed to show up at a critical Senate hearing this year to request that three local programs be added to the state budget.

Mooney is ready. His last campaign galvanized the Christian right in the largely rural district. Bob Tansey, chairman of Frederick County's powerful Christian Coalition, counts the reelection of "young Alex Mooney" among his top priorities.

With his feisty reputation and conservative platform, Mooney has raised more money than any other Republican senator in Maryland. Last month, he sent out one of his famous fundraising letters, a six-page screed against "Trial Lawyers . . . Gun Grabbers . . . the Radical Gay Lobby . . . Environmental Extremists . . . the Abortion Industry . . . and our vengeful Governor." The letter included a photo of "my beloved mother, Lala," who was thrown in jail in communist Cuba and later taught Mooney "to thank God I was born in America."

The response: Hundreds of checks, for as little as $1.25, from admirers across the state. Already, Mooney has more than $100,000 in the bank for the 2002 campaign including hefty contributions from the National Rifle Association and Americans for a Republican Majority. He is optimistic that supporters will help him raise at least $400,000 more.

"Alex is a strong advocate of issues that are important to the grass roots of the Republican Party," said Frederick barber Walter Mills. "Western Maryland is the forgotten part of this state. Why should Western Maryland have their views shoved aside and the people of the larger cities and larger voting blocs run over us?"

During Mooney's recent jaunt through the Frederick subdivision, potential voters echoed that view. From the stay-at-home mother watching her son sprint through a sprinkler to the medical office manager with a framed photo of former president Ronald Reagan on her living room wall, most greeted Mooney with a smile.

"Yes! How you doing? You're doing a good job!" effused Ahmad Coston, 40, a personal trainer and father of five, when Mooney introduced himself.

Mooney "votes for issues I feel strongly about and tends to buck the trend in Annapolis," Coston said, citing Mooney's opposition to "special rights for homosexuals" with approval. "Everyone toes the line up there. Anything that stirs the pot and gets the bees moving is good."

Mooney calls door-knocking "my favorite thing to do. For me, it's like going to Disney World." He introduces himself to everyone he meets, from grocery clerks to customers in the local barbershop. Even the young man who waits on Mooney at lunch gets a flier and a red, white and blue nail file. "Mooney," it said. "Working for you!"

"That guy's going to pick up a paper one day and read that I'm a racist and a hatemonger," Mooney said, predicting the Democratic line of attack in 2002. "But if I can make sure that he's met me just once, he's more likely to say, 'Wow. I can't believe what they're saying about that nice young man.'"

The Washington Post
Md. Black Lawmakers Seek Parity In Assembly
By Paul Schwartzmann
August 16, 2001

Black lawmakers say they plan to pressure political mapmakers over the next couple of months to create additional seats for blacks in the Maryland General Assembly.

Their argument is founded on simple math: If nearly 30 percent of the state's population is black, then that proportion should be reflected in the makeup of the state's lawmaking body.

Instead, blacks control 38 out of 188 House and Senate seats, about 20 percent.

In Prince George's, where blacks account for 70 percent of the population, three of the county's eight state senators are black.

In Montgomery County, where blacks, Hispanics and Asians make up nearly 40 percent of the population, there are no black, Asian or Hispanic state lawmakers.

"It's all in the mathematics," said state Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah (D-Prince George's), who is black. "I want parity."

Hoping to focus public awareness on the issue, Lawlah articulated that view in a recent opinion article she sent to local newspapers.

"African Americans rightly should expect representation in the lawmaking body of Maryland according to their representation in the state's population," Lawlah wrote. "That's what one person, one vote is all about. That's what equal representation is all about."

But House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany), a member of the Redistricting Advisory Committee, said the argument is sure to encounter resistance.

"She has oversimplified the whole thing," Taylor said. "If it was that simple, you'd add up how many Hispanics there are and carve out an equal number of districts for Hispanics, or you would do that for Asians.

"But that's not the way the constitution works," he said. "A whole lot of it has to do with where the African American population lives, how it's dispersed -- not just the African American population but the entire population."

Across the nation, state and local governments are reviewing election districts in light of the 2000 Census results, a review held every 10 years.

In Maryland, Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) established a five-member commission that is hosting public hearings throughout the state.

Secretary of State John T. Willis is chairing the commission, which includes four Democrats and one Republican. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) is among the members.

The highly politicized process is still at an early stage. The panel intends to draw up two plans by October, one for electing the state's eight congressional representatives and the other for electing 47 state senators and 141 members of the House of Delegates. Glendening is to submit the plan to the legislature in January.

Several political subplots have emerged.

With a population exodus over the past decade from Baltimore County and Baltimore City, lawmakers are concerned that that area could lose a Senate seat. Montgomery, on the other hand, has picked up residents and could add a Senate seat, three House of Delegate seats and maybe even a congressional seat.

There is also the possibility that the redistricting committee would create two congressional seats in Montgomery to avoid a face-off between Del. Mark K. Shriver and state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., two Democrats hoping to knock off incumbent Rep. Constance A. Morella (R-Md.).

Taylor said the committee is in the "preliminary stage" of its work. But he said it is "likely that the greater Baltimore region will lose a Senate seat."

"It's likely that it gets picked up in the more central region of the state," he said, referring to counties such as Montgomery, Prince George's and Howard. "It's too early to say which county."

The committee is bound by a host of requirements: Population levels among districts must be within 5 percent of each other, and municipalities cannot be split.

"It's more complicated than sitting and drawing circles on a map," Taylor said. "You have to make sure that each district has geographic integrity."

Del. Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore), chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said the caucus is focused on increasing black representation in Prince George's and opposing any effort to take away a Baltimore seat controlled by a black lawmaker.

"Although we have lost some population in Baltimore, the city is still majority black," Branch said. "And you'll find that very few African Americans actually left. So I don't know why we would want to remove a black district."

Washington Post
Drawing New District Lines Presents Puzzles for Democrats
By Lori Montgomery
August 12, 2001

With the redistricting process in full swing, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening and other Democratic leaders are facing not one, but two knotty problems in Montgomery County, where a surge in population means the county is likely to win a new state Senate district, three more House of Delegates seats and possibly an extra seat in Congress.

The first puzzler, as has been widely reported, is how to prevent a damaging knock-down, drag-out fight in the Democratic primary between Del. Mark K. Shriver and state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., both D-Montgomery, who are vying for the right to challenge weakened Rep. Constance A. Morella (R-Montgomery) for Congress.

One possible solution: Redraw the lines so Shriver and Van Hollen land in separate congressional districts. One could challenge Morella while the other would get a free shot at an open seat, the thinking goes.

The second issue may be more difficult. It is known as the Dana Dembrow problem.

It boils down to this: Sen. Ida Ruben (D-Montgomery) despises her feisty, iconoclastic colleague in the House of Delegates and has asked Glendening and legislative leaders to kick him out of her district, Senate District 20, where Dembrow, Del. Peter Franchot and Del. Sheila Hixson, all Democrats, run at large.

The blood is so bad between Dembrow and his district colleagues that State House observers recall one election when yard signs urging voters to support "your District 20 team" pointedly neglected to mention Dembrow.

Glendening and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) would like to oblige Ruben. But if they kick Dembrow out of District 20, they would have to put him in the new Senate district because he lives near the county's increasingly populous eastern edge.

Dembrow, a tenacious campaigner, would have a good shot at winning the open seat, according to county political observers. So while Ruben would be rid of him in District 20, he could wind up sitting beside her on the Senate floor.

To avoid that, redistricting officials have discussed extending the new Senate district west to include the home of Del. Cheryl Kagan or Del. John Hurson, Montgomery Democrats and strong incumbents who would have a shot at beating Dembrow in a race for Senate. But the resulting district would be a tortured thing, winding all over the county.

So the latest strategy seems to be forcing Ruben and Dembrow to kiss and make up.

Dembrow, who is said to be willing, did not return a phone call last week. Ruben, who was vacationing at the shore, signaled that she may be willing, too.

"If he wants to stay in my district, he can stay in my district," said Ruben, who declined to comment on whether she had, in fact, made a request to boot Dembrow or why the two don't get along.

"I've gone 18 years with him in my district. I guess I can go another 18 years," she said.

The Bulletin's Frontrunner
MD8: State Senate President Says Morella Is "Gone."
July 24, 2001 

 CNN reported that in Maryland, "the battle over redistricting is decidedly one-sided. Senate President Mike Miller is a Democrat. So is the house speaker and the governor. . Armed with new census data, the legislature will redraw boundaries and it's no secret what Senator Miller has in mind." Miller was shown saying,

"I don't want to lose Democratic seats on my watch. You know, I am not out to hurt Republicans but at the same time, I am not about to hurt any Democrats." CNN added Miller has "already picked his targets," including Rep. Connie Morella, "who has been elected to Congress eight times in the suburban area just outside of Washington." Miller was shown saying, "She's gone. She's gone. Lost and found in the border town, looking for the diamond ring, she is gone."

CNN added the "likely scenario" is to expand "Morella's district, bringing in areas with larger minority populations who tend to vote for Democrats." Maryland is "one of seven states where Democrats control the process. In eight states, Republicans hold the reins, five have nonpartisan commissions, and the rest are either split or only have one House district."

The Washington Post
When They Draw Lines
Editorial
July 13, 2001

In Richmond and Annapolis, the great political carve-outs are underway: Redistricting -- the winner-take-nearly-all remappings of state and congressional districts -- will have dramatic effects in both states. In Virginia, where Republicans only recently cemented their control of state government, the routing of longtime Democratic powerhouses is stunning. Democratic state legislators with a combined 182 years of experience have been pushed into retirement. Chief among them are Minority Leader C. Richard "Dickie" Cranwell, whose cunning legislative maneuvering and biting down-home oratory kept the shrinking Democratic presence in play; his top deputy, Del. Thomas M. Jackson Jr.; and former House speaker Thomas W. Moss Jr., whose quick wit, fiery speeches and 35 years' knowledge of the bodies politic stoked Democratic dominance in its heyday. In Northern Virginia, Democratic senators Leslie Byrne of Falls Church and Mary Margaret Whipple of Arlington find themselves in the same district. Majority-black districts have become more so, prompting Democratic accusationsof "packing," or concentrating black voting strength in a few districts to help Republicans in next-door districts.

For Congress, the remapping of Northern Virginia was effectively a done deal before it showed up in Richmond. Back in February, Northern Virginia's three representatives huddled informally to sketch their best lines for self-preservation.

In Maryland, where Democrats have long ruled, the process will be just as partisan. One Democratic goal is to make reelection as difficult as possible for Republican Rep. Connie Morella. Power brokers in Annapolis are talking about carving up her Montgomery County district, not only to hurt Rep. Morella but also as part of an intramural game -- the jockeying of various Democrats who want to run in what is now Mrs. Morella's district.

The common thread here is that voters' interests tend to come last. No one is shocked to see politics and partisanship enter the redistricting process. But there are a few states that employ nonpartisan commissions to do at least some of the work. As voters in Maryland and Virginia watch their reigning majorities stick it to the other side, they might want to think about alternative ways of doing the people's business 

The Washington Post
Democratic Remapping Plan Targets Morella's District Adding 2 Montgomery Seats Among Ideas to Win Clout
By Spencer S. Hsu
July 7, 2001

Maryland's four Democratic congressmen are considering a plan to create separate Montgomery County-based U.S. House districts for state Del. Mark K. Shriver and state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., the party's best-known hopes for unseating Rep. Constance A. Morella in 2002.

Democratic strategists and state lawmakers who will redraw congressional lines next winter are taking a hard look at the proposal, which could avert a brutal, multimillion-dollar primary next year.

"As a group, we have agreed we want to increase the number of Democrats from Maryland on the Hill," said Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.). "So we're obviously looking at what we can do relative to [Morella's] district."

Talks are preliminary. But a key choice is whether to target only Morella by packing her district with heavily Democratic precincts from Silver Spring and Takoma Park now represented by Wynn; or to gamble and section Maryland's largest county into thirds, giving Montgomery voters -- and Democrats -- a say in electing three members of Congress.

Van Hollen, 42, a Washington lawyer and leader in Annapolis, said he is open to expanding Democrats' clout and taking a shot at two more of Maryland's eight House seats.

"I'm withholding judgment on any plan until we see how the numbers work out," Van Hollen said. "I do think the Democrats should do everything they can to maximize Democratic representation in Congress."

Shriver, 37, a powerful fundraiser and Kennedy scion, opposes the idea, saying Montgomery should retain its own representative.

"Montgomery County is the largest, most important county in the state, and it ought to have at least one person fully focused on the needs of Montgomery County," Shriver said.

County Democrats say a three-way split could give Van Hollen an open seat, while Shriver faced Morella in a district extended to the rural northwest. Clinton administration trade official Ira Shapiro and lawyer Deborah Vollmer are also running.

The dispute could pose an early test of influence for Shriver and Van Hollen's patrons.

State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's), a Van Hollen supporter and a member of a five-person redistricting advisory task force created by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), said, "My preference would be to create one safe Democratic seat, with certainty."

But he said two strong candidates in Shriver and Van Hollen were a reason to go for two. He said districts are plausible in which Democratic presidential candidates have won 55 percent and 59 percent of the vote.

"Shriver would be wise to consider it an option, too," Miller said. "He may end up running for Garrett County and Frederick. He can smile for them as well as he can in Rockville and Chevy Chase."

House of Delegates Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany), who supports Shriver and also sits on the Glendening panel, called it "a stretch" to link Western Maryland with Washington's core suburbs.

The plan to "maximize" the Democratic vote "is very destructive to communities of interest," Taylor said. "The idea of attempting to carve out two congressional districts simply because two 'blue-chippers' want to go to Congress I think is a very superficial reason."

Maryland is just starting the intensely political task of redrawing legislative and congressional seats using the 2000 Census. The Democratic legislature will approve a plan next winter based on the governor's recommendation. (In Virginia, state lawmakers take up congressional redistricting in a special session next week.)

Glendening's advisers will start by protecting congressional Democrats. Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, Benjamin L. Cardin, Elijah E. Cummings and Wynn have met several times privately at Democratic campaign committee offices to draw a consensus map by August -- in time for the Glendening panel's last public hearings in September.

Democrats say the liberal Morella is vulnerable. She won her eighth term last fall with 52 percent of the vote, a new low, spurring talk that the 1994 GOP House takeover has dimmed her cross-party appeal.

With 875,000 residents, Montgomery is the mother lode for Democratic mapmakers. The county backed Al Gore over George W. Bush for president, 63 percent to 34 percent. But party leaders must balance their hunger to expand their numbers and retake the House against fear that they might spread their votes too thin.

A "Democratic maximum plan" being circulated by party strategists and lobbyists would lump Republican Roscoe G. Bartlett, of Frederick, and Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), of Timonium, into one 150-mile-long district from Baltimore County to West Virginia.

In Montgomery, the plan would create a new district that would start in Bethesda, home to Morella and Shriver, and have a northwestern wing stretching up the Potomac River to the Cumberland Gap in the western panhandle and an eastern wing taking part of Columbia. Morella's district would shift northeast of Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway -- with Van Hollen's Kensington -- and reach east to share Columbia, Howard County and Anne Arundel County around Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

For now, Morella waits. While Democrats hope she will withdraw, the 70-year-old health expert and federal worker champion has banked $300,000 for her campaign, on pace with her 2000 race.

"What I am hoping is the integrity of Montgomery County . . . will be respected, that there will not be a carve-out or a Balkanization," Morella said. "I hope they will consider the people who live in the county, not the people who want to run for office in the county."

She invited Montgomery residents and politicians to speak out and quoted Shakespeare's Isabella: "It is excellent to have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant."

Morella said she would run in any district she gets and did not plan on moving. "One-party government corrupts," she said.

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
June 11, 2001

Old Line State Draws New Lines.

One day after targeted Rep. Connie Morella (R) said she'll fight to hold her district, Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D) assembled a redistricting task force stacked heavily with Democrats.

Maryland Democrats, who control the state Legislature and the remap process, are gunning for Morella, who last week opted to forgo a 2002 gubernatorial bid to run for re-election in her Montgomery County district, a heavily Democratic seat that has nonetheless elected Morella since 1986. A widely circulated plan would move her district southeast into several majority-minority precincts currently represented by Rep. Al Wynn (D).

The governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee will be headed by Maryland Secretary of State John Willis, a longtime Glendening political adviser and an expert on Maryland elections.

The three other Democrats are state House Speaker Casper Taylor Jr., state Senate President Mike Miller and Isiah Leggett, a councilman in Morella's base of Montgomery County. The lone Republican is Louise Gulyas, a Worcester County commissioner.

Associated Press
Democrats Target Morella's Seat With New Districts
By Stephen Manning
March 16, 2001     

For years, moderate Republican Connie Morella has confounded Democrats with her ability to keep a firm grip on Maryland's 8th Congressional District, crushing most challengers in heavily Democratic Montgomery County. But with Morella coming off one of her tightest races last fall and the release of the 2000 census figures expected to be released this coming week, Democrats think they have the right combination to finally claim the seat that could help tip the narrow margin in the House of Representatives. State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Prince George's, said he will push a plan that will put more traditionally Democratic voters in Morella's district. ``There will be a major move to include those portions close to Washington D.C. and near Prince George's within the 8th District,'' Miller said. ``Morella can decide whether she can be fish or fowl. She'll have to decide whether she wants to stay with the Republicans.''

The powerful Senate president will likely be at the forefront of state Democratic efforts to redraw district lines for both Congress and the state legislature. The governor and top Democrats will take the figures and come up with a plan to rework districts. That map, including others proposed by individual lawmakers, will be voted on by the General Assembly during next year's session. Miller said he plans to move portions on the eastern part of Montgomery County from Albert Wynn's 4th District into the 8th District. Most of those communities, such as Silver Spring and Wheaton have high and rapidly growing numbers of minorities, a traditionally Democratic voting bloc. As a trade-off, Miller suggests moving the more conservative western part of the Montgomery county out of the 8th District into Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett's 6th District. The shift in voters could be the key to finally beating Morella, Miller said. ``If that portion of the district had been in the 8th in the previous election, than Congresswoman Morella would not have been successful,'' Miller said.

Morella is not threatened by the potential influx of Democrats, said spokesman Jonathan Dean, noting the eastern spur was part of her district before it was cut off after the 1990 census. ``Connie effectively represented this part of Montgomery County through the last redistricting,'' Dean said. ``That area certainly is not new to Congresswoman Morella.'' Morella has been able to hold onto her seat because she often sides with the Democrats on key issues. She has also developed a reputation for strong constituent service that wins her voter loyalty across party lines. But her opponent last fall, businessman Terry Lierman, made headway against Morella by making pleas to the Democratic allegiances of voters. He won 48 percent of the vote to Morella's 52, the narrowest margin she has had in 15 years in Congress. Morella also recently fell in line with her Republican colleagues on one of the most divisive issues facing the House, voting for the income tax portion of President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut. Redistricting could shift the even 4-4 split between the two parties in Maryland's Congressional delegation, said Greg Speed, spokesman for Texas Rep. Martin Frost. Frost chairs IMPAC 2000, the group heading the Democrats' national redistricting campaign. ``Clearly there is Republican overrepresentation in the House delegation,'' he said. ``With Democrats controlling the redistricting plan, a fair plan could yield Democratic gains.''

Wynn, who would stand to lose the only portion of his district in Montgomery County, said he has heard a different story from state Democratic leaders. ``I'm sure that's not the plan,'' Wynn said. ``I'm confident that I will continue to represent Montgomery County.'' State Republican Party chairman Michael Steele said he is happy with the 8th District the way it is, but is realistic that his party will have little say on redistricting in the heavily-Democratic legislature. The proposed change would also help the possible candidacy of Delegate Mark Shriver, D-Montgomery, Steele said. Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family, has expressed strong interest in running for Congress in 2002. ``We have gathered from this that they want to make it a nice cushy run for Mark Shriver against Morella in the 8th,'' Steele said. ``I think she can hold him off, but it will be a tough race, especially if they push the district a little left of center.'' 

 

 

 



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