Maryland's Redistricting News
The Baltimore Sun: "Hearing on governor's
redistricting map ends Judge must submit report to high court by May 24"
April 30, 2002
The Baltimore Sun
Ending three days of testimony, critics and defenders of the governor's legislative redistricting plan gave closing arguments yesterday in about a dozen lawsuits calling for the map to be redrawn because of claims that it hurts minority representation and splits communities.
The critics want the Maryland Court of Appeals to change or force the state to change redistricting lines from Washington and Carroll counties to the west and the lower Eastern Shore in the south.
Albert Figinski, a lawyer representing critics of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's plan in Baltimore County and on the Eastern Shore, called the plan "horrible. ... This just isn't the greatest way."
Defending the plan, Carmen M. Shepard, a deputy attorney general, said 80 percent of Maryland's communities kept the same basic legislative districts they've had for the past 10 years. She said that throughout the hearing critics failed to present a viable plan that provided solutions to the odd twists that some of the districts had to take.
"Not a single one gave you a workable state plan," Shepard said. "It will always be a little funny-looking."
Yesterday's arguments concluded the hearing before retired Court of Appeals Judge Robert L. Karwacki, who was appointed by the court to hear the lawsuits. Karwacki must submit a report to the full court by May 24.
Karwacki told Figinski and other lawyers who might have proposals on how to redraw the district lines to submit their written recommendations to him by Friday. Some critics of the governor's plan proposed changes in their arguments throughout the hearing.
Unless the court orders changes to Glendening's redistricting plan, elections officials will follow the new lines. New lines are drawn every 10 years after the U.S. Census.
Critics of Glendening's plan charge that the governor went out of his way to protect incumbent Democrats and hurt Republicans, with little or no regard for state and federal voters rights laws.
"It looked like the constitutional requirements went out the window," said Richard Colaresi, a lawyer representing the city of College Park, which opposes part of the redistricting plan because it splits the city into multiple districts.
Another lawsuit alleges that lawmakers would have to cross the Patapsco River to reach part of their district under the plan. And Republicans question the way the governor drew the district lines on the Eastern Shore, lumping several counties together in a way that would force incumbent GOP senators to run against each other.
Critics say the governor could have drawn lines that would have given minorities - in particular African-Americans and Hispanics - greater opportunities to win seats in the legislature by increasing their population numbers in districts in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
Secretary of State John T. Willis said population pressures and the political efforts to protect incumbent Democrats forced the architects of the redistricting plan to craft the lines the way the did. He said more legislative districts cross county lines than under the current arrangement, but overall he believes the governor's plan will yield an increased number of minorities in the legislature.
"The idea was to disturb as few lines as possible," Willis said.
The Washington Post
The Maryland Court of Appeals cast doubt yesterday on the legality of the state's redistricting plan, throwing into question this year's elections for the General Assembly.
The court said state legislators and others challenging the political map drawn by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) had presented sufficient evidence "to preclude a finding that the Governor's Legislative Redistricting Plan is valid as a matter of law."
The court ordered Glendening to defend his map April 25 before a special master and to produce evidence to show that he tried to draw districts that do not cross county lines and other boundaries, as required by the state constitution.
The order shifts the burden of proof from the challengers to the state, for the first time forcing Maryland officials to defend the constitutionality of a legislative redistricting plan. The state's plan for congressional seats is not affected.
"The state has lost, and they now have to come in and prove why they did what they did," said M. Albert Figinski, a lawyer representing several lawmakers. "The governor's plan has been skewered. It is in limbo. We'll see what comes out."
Assistant Attorney General Robert Zarnoch disagreed, saying the court did not use strong language that would spell serious trouble.
"I don't think this calls into question the whole plan. It just means more work for the state's lawyers," Zarnoch said. "We do intend to justify every single crossing and everything we did."
It was unclear whether the battle would be resolved before the July 1 filing deadline for state elections. Primaries will be held Sept. 10. The matter is to go before the special master, retired Court of Appeals judge Robert Karwacki, this month. The court is to review Karwacki's findings and issue a ruling by June 10.
The Maryland map is the third in the region to draw judicial disapproval.
Last month, a state judge rejected the Virginia General Assembly's redistricting plan, saying that some districts in the state's vast southeastern corner relied on unconstitutional boundaries and "racial gerrymandering."
The ruling, which will be appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court, agreed with state Democrats that the Republican-controlled legislature unfairly confined black voters to the smallest possible number of districts to limit their voting strength.
This week, a three-judge federal panel declared Pennsylvania's congressional redistricting plan unconstitutional, throwing the state's political map into disarray just weeks before its May 21 primary.
In Maryland, there are 13 state lawsuits and two federal lawsuits challenging Glendening's plan, which redrew legislative and congressional districts to take into account population shifts recorded in the 2000 Census.
As in Virginia, the broadest attacks in Maryland allege discrimination against minority voters.
But those suits, filed by Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) and the Maryland Republican Party, did not find favor with the Court of Appeals yesterday, and Curry and the GOP retain the burden of proof in their cases.
During the three-hour preliminary hearing, the judges showed more interest in a handful of lawsuits that question the governor's decision to draw districts that cross from Baltimore into Baltimore County, cross from Baltimore County into Anne Arundel County, and run across counties on the lower Eastern Shore.
Figinski said the map contains more districts that cross political boundaries than any previous redistricting plan, violating the state constitution's requirement to provide each county with coherent political representation in Annapolis.
Zarnoch said the governor was forced to draw the districts to reflect large shifts in population and to preserve districts with black majorities in Baltimore and on the Eastern Shore.
Said Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill, "We're very confident that when the special master looks at the demography, he will make very little changes in the map, if any."
A Pasadena lawmaker yesterday joined a Baltimore County delegate in challenging the state's legislative redistricting plan that adds two Baltimore County precincts to District 31 in north county.
The petition filed with the Court of Appeals is the first and likely only legal challenge to be filed concerning the redrawing of the county's voting districts.
Del. John R. Leopold, R-Pasadena, co-filed the petition with Del. Jacob J. Mohorovic, Jr., D-Dundalk, and five eastern Baltimore County residents whose neighborhoods were moved from Mr. Mohorovic's District 7 to District 31 in Anne Arundel County.
"The governor's plan did not comply with the state constitutional requirement to respect natural boundaries," Mr. Leopold said. "It leaps across (the Patapsco River) to join disparate voters wholly lacking in common interests and communities."
The state constitution requires any new redistricting plan must give "due regard" to natural boundaries and existing county and city lines.
The petition is the third to challenge Gov. Parris N. Glendening's plan, which was submitted to the House of Delegates and the state Senate in January and became law on Feb. 22.
The Court of Appeals will hold a hearing on the validity of the plan April 11.
District 7 in Baltimore County was carved into five segments. Precincts No. 15-21 and 15-22 were linked to District 31 across the Key Bridge, effectively disenfranchising voters there, the petitioners contend.
Those residents constitute only 8 percent of the new District 31 population "and are virtually isolated," they claim.
A spokesman for Mr. Glendening said the Baltimore County delegation originally proposed taking two precincts out of northern Anne Arundel County to preserve the Baltimore district. The governor's final plan reversed that proposal.
"We were very careful as we constructed this (plan) to follow all of the laws and constitutional imperatives," said Michael Morrill, a spokesman for the governor. "We expect literally a dozen lawsuits."
"The result of redistricting every 10 years is there are changes."
Typically, each legislative district is represented by three delegates and one state senator. During the redistricting process, legislative boundaries are redrawn to reflect shifts in population found in the census. The plan tries to create districts with about 112,691 residents.
Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the governor's legislative redistricting plan, on the grounds that it shortchanges the black and Latino voters who live in the Washington suburbs.
The lawsuit is the first of several expected to contest Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening's new legislative maps, which were drawn to account for population shifts revealed in the 2000 Census and automatically took effect Friday.
Curry's challenge, brought not on behalf of the county but as a private citizen, focuses entirely on the map's implications for minorities, and asserts that Glendening (D) should have done more to increase the influence of blacks and Latinos in Annapolis.
The lawsuit, filed in the Maryland Court of Appeals, contends that the new map could have created five minority-controlled districts in Prince George's, but instead "packs African-Americans into only four legislative districts . . . in order to protect the re-election prospects of white incumbents preferred by white voters."
Curry (D) also argues that the plan divides minority voters into multiple districts, thereby preventing them from achieving enough concentrated voting power to control any one district.
Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill has said that the governor carefully balanced the goal of increasing the diversity of representation in the General Assembly with the legal requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act, which prohibits the creation of districts based solely on race considerations.
The new maps reflect a shift in Maryland's population out of Baltimore and into the Washington suburbs, in part by creating a new majority-black district in Prince George's.
But Curry's lawsuit draws heavily on concerns of underrepresentation for minorities, especially in Prince George's, the nation's most affluent majority-black county. While minorities make up 75 percent of the county's population, they are represented in Annapolis by a political delegation that is evenly split between whites and minorities.
Statewide, too, the numbers show that blacks are underrepresented in the General Assembly. Only 20 percent of the 188 state lawmakers are black, though blacks now make up nearly 38 percent of the statewide population. Under Glendening's plan, Curry's suit says, that representation probably will rise only minimally, to about 21 percent in the House and 23 percent in the Senate.
Lawsuits invariably follow the completion of every decennial redistricting plan, and a team of lawyers in the state attorney general's office has been assembled to fend off the challenges.
In a motion filed with the Court of Appeals on Friday that asked the court to appoint a special master to oversee the various challenges, Assistant Attorney General Robert A. Zarnoch offered an early defense of the governor's plan.
"With regard to expected challenges," the motion states, "the State will introduce evidence to show . . . the governor's plan achieves or exceeds proportional minority representation."
In another suit filed yesterday, this one in U.S. District Court, Sen. Clarence Mitchell IV (D) contends that the redistricting plan shatters his downtown Baltimore district, which is 80 percent black, to protect two white delegates and a white state senator.
Senators from Baltimore and the Eastern Shore also have said they will sue, arguing that the plan violates the geographic continuity of their communities.
The Republican Party plans a broader challenge, questioning the state's unusual system of having most voters elect a block of three members of the House of Delegates. Drawing more tightly confined, single-member districts would have increased minority representation, particularly in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, according to Michael Steele, the state's Republican Party chairman.
Challenges to the three-member districts have succeeded before. In 1994, for instance, a panel of federal judges ordered the creation of a single-member district on the Eastern Shore to accommodate black voters there. But the system never has faced a statewide challenge.
By the end of today, the State House politicking over redrawing Maryland's legislative districts will be officially completed and a new map will become law. Now the battle moves to the courts.
A half-dozen or more lawsuits are expected to be filed beginning next week challenging the redistricting plan created by Gov. Parris N. Glendening - including suits by Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV of Baltimore, Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. of Baltimore County and Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus of the Eastern Shore.
Mitchell also planned to file an ethics complaint last night over the Senate and House resolutions that translated Glendening's map into law, saying the way they were handled "subverted the public process."
The governor's legislative map - required once a decade to reflect the latest national census data on population changes - shifts two state Senate districts from the Baltimore region to the fast-growing Washington suburbs.
Many of the complaints center on such issues as eliminating the Baltimore County Dundalk district, merging two city senators' districts and changing how the Eastern Shore is divided.
Under the Maryland Constitution, Glendening's proposal automatically takes effect if the General Assembly doesn't act to change it by the 45th day of the session.
Today is the 45th day, and House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller say they do not expect any legislative action.
Instead, opponents of the governor's proposal will challenge the plan under the Maryland Constitution with the Court of Appeals and federal civil rights laws with the U.S. District Court - lawsuits that have long been expected by those who helped create the plan.
"Lawsuits will be filed under any condition," predicted Taylor, who served with Miller on the five-member redistricting advisory panel appointed by Glendening.
Today, Robert A. Zarnoch, the Assembly's chief counsel, expects to file a legal brief with the Court of Appeals to start setting up a process for legal challenges. All state lawsuits on redistricting go directly to Maryland's highest court.
If the court follows similar procedures to what occurred in 1982 - the last time that a state legislative election was held the same year that the districts were redrawn - the deadline for all challenges would likely be in late March.
The court would appoint a special master to gather facts on all of the challenges, and the judges would hold a hearing. A ruling likely would be made by early June.
Because state law requires candidates to be living in their districts six months in advance of the general election - before final rulings could be made - the court would likely follow its precedent from two decades ago and extend that residency deadline, perhaps until July.
Taylor, Miller and the governor have all said they're confident the redistricting plan will survive any legal challenges. "The governor was very careful to make sure he followed the constitutional requirements of redistricting," said Michael Morrill, a spokesman for Glendening.
The first challenge was to be filed yesterday by Mitchell with the Assembly's ethics committee over corrections made to the redistricting legislation.
The joint resolutions on redistricting introduced on the first day of the session contained several technical errors - including assigning the same city precinct to two districts. More than a month later, a second printing of the resolutions was made, correcting the errors.
The governor's office said the changes affected only the resolutions, not the overall plan and redistricting map. But Mitchell charged that when other bills have technical mistakes, legislators are required to vote on corrective amendments.
"When there are changes made to legislation, we expect the rules to be followed," said Jimmy A. Bell, Mitchell's lawyer in the redistricting challenge.
But Zarnoch issued an opinion this month that a second printing could be done "without the necessity of reintroducing or amending the resolution" because the changes "do not affect the governor's plan as evidenced by the maps and data."
Mitchell and Bell said they intend to file a lawsuit Monday challenging the legality of the plan, which merges Mitchell's district with that of Sen. George W. Della Jr. "It really fits the definition of gerrymandering," Mitchell said.
The Baltimore County delegation that represents the Dundalk area - Stone and his three delegates - also plan a lawsuit challenging how their district was erased and divided among four other districts. Two precincts, including the one where Stone lives, were shifted into northern Anne Arundel County. "Baltimore County lost representation and they annihilated a district," Stone said.
Stone's attorney, H. Albert Figinski, said that the current legislative map has 18 districts extending into more than one jurisdiction, while the new map increases that to 22. "There are many more crossings of subdivision lines this time than last," he said.
Figinski also is likely to represent Stoltzfus, the Senate Republican leader who moved in November to what he described as his "dream house." Glendening's plan changes the Eastern Shore enough to place that home in the district of Sen. Richard F. Colburn.
"They've created a district that goes from Tilghman Island to Smith Island, and it would take a legislator three hours to drive from one end to the other," Stoltzfus said. "How is that a compact district?"
Several organizations also have talked about filing court challenges, including the Maryland Republican Party, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Coalition of Concerned Christian Black Men of Prince George's
On the afternoon last week that Maryland Democrats released a new redistricting map aimed at unseating Rep. Constance Morella, the eight-term moderate Republican waffled on her future plans.
ìWho knows whatís going to happen?î she said, when asked if she is committed to seeking reelection in a district drawn by Democratic lawmakers who hope to send her into retirement. The new district will jump to a 2-to-1 Democratic majority.
ìIíve said I was going to run, but who knows until I announce?î she added. When pressed about other possible options, such as running for lieutenant governor alongside Rep. Robert Ehrlich (R) or perhaps taking a job in the Bush administration, Morella laughed.
ìI donít know,î the 70-year-old lawmaker said. ìI donít even think that far ahead.î
Morellaís apparent ambivalence about running for a ninth term is reflected in her fundraising efforts. According to a report she filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission, she raised only $332,000 between July and December.
She has $574,524 in the bank, a fraction of the $1.2 million her opponent, Democrat Mark Shriver, has in the bank. State Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who is running a strong campaign against Shriver for the Democratic nod, said he had raised more than Morella in the past six months but declined to disclose the amount.
Morella said she wonít announce her decision until the July 1 filing deadline. Her spokesman, Jonathan Dean ó who called her campaign office ìvery much a part-time operationî ó added that she wouldnít start campaigning in earnest until after the September primary.
While Dean insisted that Morella will run, her uncertain response and modest campaign bankroll are highly unusual for someone who is regarded as one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents. Should she decide to run, the contest to represent Washingtonís Maryland suburbs would be one of the most competitive races in a year where control of the House is at stake.
Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Morella has given the committee no indication that she may retire. He added that he has not heard from any Republicans who may be interested in the race.
Although deliberately vague about her future plans, Morella minced no words when asked to respond to the new shape of her district.
ìItís the typical use of power and, I think, abuse of power,î the former college professor said. ìItís like what Shakespeare once wrote: ëOh, ítis wondrous to have the strength of a giant but it is tyrannous to use it as a giant.íî
Nonetheless, state and national Republicans, who plan to pour their resources into the race to ensure that the GOP holds its tenuous majority after the midterm elections, consider Morellaís candidacy a foregone conclusion.
Hailing from a solidly liberal county in an even more liberal state, Morella holds the distinction of representing the most Democratic district of any of her partyís 222 members ó an honor she has earned in the last eight elections.
But as she enters her seventh decade, Morella faces her most daunting task since 2000, when she edged out her opponent with only 52 percent of the vote ó her narrowest margin of victory ever.
Indeed, the newly drawn district shed a large percentage of its GOP constituents in northern Montgomery County and added a number of voters from Democratic strongholds in Takoma Park, Silver Spring and Prince Georgeís County.
Democratic presidential and gubernatorial candidates have carried the district in the past with about 60 percent of the vote. That number would jump to 65 percent in the new district.
In addition, more than one-fifth of Morellaís new constituents have never seen her name on the ballot. And the districtís African-American and Latino population, regarded as two of the most loyal Democratic constituencies, jumped from 20 percent of the old district to about 25 percent of the new district.
Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening (D) is expected to submit the map to the state Legislature this week. Modest adjustments may be made, but the state Democrats are expected to keep the plan largely intact.
Morellaís ambivalence is hardly surprising, since several formidable Democrats, including a well-heeled member of the Kennedy clan, are already campaigning hard.
Shriver, a two-term state delegate and nephew of the late President Kennedy, boasts a war chest of $1.2 million and has won early backing from his sister, Maryland Lt. Gov Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D), who is considered the clear favorite in her bid for the governorís mansion.
State Sen. Van Hollen, a veteran state legislator, is also seeking the Democratic nomination, as is Ira Shapiro, a former aide to President Clinton, who has raised $400,000. Perennial candidate, attorney Deborah Vollmer, is also in the race.
Morella Targeted, Ehrlich Spared?
Maryland Democrats, who have become key players in redistricting as their party seeks to retake the House, last week released a House map that, as expected, seeks to oust GOP Reps. Connie Morella and Bob Ehrlich.
Some Democrats in Annapolis, however, expressed disappointment with the map, saying it does little to bolster Baltimore County Executive C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D)in his expected bid in Ehrlich's 2nd district.
State Senate President Mike Miller (D) said allies of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the top Democratic gubernatorial candidate, sought to protect Ehrlich to ensure that he would not run against her. Polls show that Ehrlich would be his party's strongest gubernatorial candidate.
"Some people feel [Ehrlich] should stay in Congress," Miller, the lone dissenting vote on Gov. Parris Glendening's (D) five-member redistricting task force, told the Baltimore Sun. "It's not a map that goes 6-2. It goes 5-3."Currently, Maryland's eight-member House delegation is evenly split.
Ehrlich said Friday that he still has not made a final decision about the statewide race, but he said he agrees with Miller's assessment of the map. "If we would choose to run for Congress, it's a good seat," he said. Nonetheless, he said the map was Glendening's "payback" and his "last insult" to the Baltimore suburbs, which he never carried in two gubernatorial elections.
Indeed, of the two, Morella - who won her 8th term in 2000 by 6 points, her narrowest margin ever - is more seriously endangered. The plan would remove much of northern Montgomery County, a GOP stronghold, from her district and add roughly 60,000 Prince George's County voters, including the liberal enclave of Takoma Park and black voters inside the Capital Beltway.
"It's not a map that she would have drawn, clearly," said Morella spokesman Jonathan Dean. "It was created behind closed doors with virtually no public input, and they were essentially trying to achieve through a geographic bending of the lines what they haven't achieved through the ballot box. But she welcomes these new voters to Maryland's 8th district with open arms, and she very much looks forward to representing them."
Dean noted that Morella represented many of the precincts drawn into her district between 1987, when she first came to the House, and 1993, when her current district was created. "These residents know Connie Morella and they know her record," he said.
The task force, consisting of four Democrats and one Republican, submitted a map that would force two Montgomery County Democrats, state Del. Mark Shriver - a nephew of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and cousin of Kennedy Townsend - and state Sen. Christopher Van Hollen, to vie for the party's nod to challenge Morella. Some Democrats, including state Senate President Miller, had pushed a plan that instead would split Montgomery County and let the two candidates run in separate districts.
Ehrlich said he is "cautiously optimistic" that Morella will prevail under the map. "I'm pretty bullish on Morella. This time she is engaged and is taking fundraising very seriously. She's tapping all of her resources. She is a priority for me personally."
The map was widely praised by House Democrats except for Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D), who said in a prepared statement that he would lobby Glendening for changes because he lost many neighborhoods he has represented in Columbia, Baltimore and Baltimore County. Cardin said the alterations represented "the highest percentage change for any incumbent Member of Congress in the nation."
Although the map must be approved by the state Legislature, Democrats, who run both chambers, have endorsed the plan and said they expect few changes.
A day after the governor's office released a proposed congressional redistricting map, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr.'s office worked to come up with another drawing that would quell the distress of U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin.
Cardin spent much of yesterday in closed-door meetings in Annapolis, discussing a wish list that would restore areas he believes are key to his 3rd District - including a precinct that contains a Jewish community center.
A former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates of whom lawmakers speak fondly, Cardin said Thursday he had "grave concerns" about the proposed map, on which he loses many neighborhoods he has represented in Columbia, Baltimore and Baltimore County.
Cardin's district was the only one that lawmakers talked about redrawing. Otherwise, leading Democrats said yesterday the map was likely to remain more or less as is, although tweaks to other borders are still possible.
A final version will be introduced in the General Assembly as a bill, and so could be amended.
"I think you'll see things like precinct changes, more than any wholesale changes," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who was the lone dissenting voter on the commission that came up with the proposal. He favors a map that would add a congressional seat based in Montgomery County.
Sen. Ida G. Ruben, a Montgomery Democrat who is co-chairwoman of a Senate committee that will hold a hearing on the map, said although some of her Montgomery colleagues probably would have preferred Miller's plan, there appeared to be no serious effort under way to undo the current proposal.
Even Baltimore County lawmakers said they generally support the map - which splinters their county among five congressional districts, up from three.
"No, it doesn't worry me," said Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, who expressed a more-the-merrier sentiment echoed by several other Democrats, including County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "We will have five people to talk with about county issues in the federal Congress," Bromwell said.
Although the map looks "pretty ugly" to Del. Michael E. Busch, an Anne Arundel Democrat, he, too, will probably vote for it. "That's the grim reality," he said. "It's more about personalities than it is about geography or constituencies."
The map preserves three congressional seats in the Baltimore area despite population growth in the Washington suburbs. It also seeks to add one or two Democrats to Maryland's eight-member U.S. House delegation, now evenly split between political parties.
The proposal carves out a new 2nd District designed to appeal to a Democrat - but which would contain enough Republican voters to possibly entice Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to forgo a gubernatorial run and instead try for re-election.
The lines of legislative and congressional districts are redrawn with each 10-year census. The rules governing congressional redistricting are especially unforgiving on one point: Each of the state's eight districts must contain equal populations of 662,061. The redistricting commission allowed itself a margin of only two people to make sure the result wouldn't be challenged in court.
That means any changes sought by Cardin would affect almost every other district.
Cardin, who is Jewish, could prevail in two spots involving precincts with Jewish voters that ended up just outside his district. One is in Northwest Baltimore, and the other is on the edge of Randallstown.
Maryland officials proposed a redistricting plan yesterday intended to help defeat U.S. Rep. Constance A. Morella, a Republican who confounds Democrats by continually winning reelection in liberal Montgomery County, and aid Democratic efforts to retake control of the House of Representatives.
The Democratic plan takes from Morella much of northern Montgomery, an area rich with Republicans, and adds 60,000 Prince George's County voters, including liberals in Takoma Park and African Americans inside the Capital Beltway.
"We knew they would try to achieve through geography what they couldn't achieve through the ballot box," said Morella, one of the two longest-serving members representing Maryland. "It's a shame that there was such partisan motivations instead of thinking about people who have been very happy with their representation."
The proposal would end a political debate in Annapolis over whether to accommodate two promising Democratic state lawmakers who want to ascend to Congress by giving each his own district. Instead, it would pit Del. Mark K. Shriver against Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. in a Democratic primary to determine who would take on Morella.
The plan also reconfigures congressional districts surrounding Baltimore and could determine whether U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the favored son of Maryland's GOP, decides to abandon his seat and enter the governor's race.
A commission of four Democrats and one Republican appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) has been laboring over congressional redistricting for months. Population shifts marked by the U.S. Census require a redrawing of the district lines every 10 years.
In Maryland, where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 and Democrats control all major political offices, party officials have long chafed over not electing more Democrats to Congress. The current split is four Democrats and four Republicans, and state Democratic leaders hope they can increase their number by two, which would help the national party as it seeks control of the House in November.
"If the pattern follows Democratic performance, this would pick up two seats," said Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill. "That would be more reflective of Maryland's voting patterns."
Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany) said the plan was the best way to elect more Democrats. "We Democrats deserve six [Democrats] and two" Republicans, he said. "You've got to look at this thing as the game plan for the next five congressional elections."
Three of the four Democratic incumbents agreed to the plan, but Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin protested that it altered 60 percent of his suburban Baltimore district.
Secretary of State John T. Willis, who heads the redistricting commission, said he did not expect Glendening to make major changes to the plan. Once the governor signs off on a final version, it requires a legislative vote.
But Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) opposed the plan, saying it is not configured as well as possible to elect more Democrats.
"It's not an aggressive, partisan plan," Miller said. "Maryland Democrats would be saying there's no chance the Democrats are going to take back the House of Representatives."
He and many other Democrats fear that Ehrlich could defeat Baltimore County Executive C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, who is weighing a run for Congress.
Nationally, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had counted on Maryland's plan to help pick up two seats, and members said yesterday that they were pleased with the plan.
"We feel that opportunities are looking good for us in Maryland, and Maryland will be one of our central battle grounds in our fights to take back the House," said spokeswoman Jenny Backus.
The maps make beating Ehrlich more difficult than beating Morella, according to one Democratic House leadership aide. But based on past election results, the aide believed Ruppersberger could do it. "I'm not saying it's a slam-dunk," the aide said. "It will be a close race."
The proposal makes Morella the leading target. Morella's last election was her closest when she defeated lobbyist and businessman Terry Lierman, 52 percent to 46 percent. It was the first time Morella had dipped below 60 percent, and Democrats have been salivating for another shot at her.
The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, Shriver and Van Hollen, were the subject of a political debate in recent months as Miller attempted to carve out separate districts for each of them.
Shriver, a nephew of President John F. Kennedy, has been aggressively fundraising and said yesterday, "I have always advocated that it is in the best interests of Montgomery County that a district with a majority of its voters in it be created, so that the representative would be focused on Montgomery County."
Van Hollen, who has risen to vice chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said he always planned on a competitive Democratic primary.
"From Day One, our campaign plan has assumed we would have one district in Montgomery County," he said.
Ehrlich's home near Timonium has actually been put in the 1st District, which is now represented by Wayne T. Gilchrest (R). But there is no legal barrier to him from running in his old 2nd District, and he said he would, if he doesn't run for governor.
Ehrlich said U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee, had urged him to make sure his seat stays in Republican hands if he runs for governor. Among the Republicans who've expressed interest in Ehrlich's seat is Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the Maryland GOP's gubernatorial candidate in the last two elections.
For Montgomery County activists hoping to elect more minorities to the Maryland General Assembly, District 20 represented their best hope. Situated along the county's southeastern border with Prince George's County, the diverse area is Montgomery's only state political jurisdiction where minorities outnumber whites.
The activists waited anxiously for Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) to unveil the state's legislative maps. Every 10 years, states must redraw their political boundaries to reflect population shifts, and a vocal group was pushing the Democratic governor to use the opportunity to ensure that a minority candidate could run for an open seat in District 20.
Proponents had a potent argument: Montgomery County, the state's largest jurisdiction, is nearly 40 percent minority and includes half of all Asian Americans and Hispanics in Maryland. Yet the current delegation from the county is all white except for one member of Indian descent, and he does not live in the majority-minority District 20.
Instead, an old enmity coupled with the wishes of several powerful lawmakers led Glendening to propose a map earlier this month that means that any minority candidate who wants to run in District 20 must take on a ticket of well-financed, white incumbents.
The decision has some prominent minority members of the county's Democratic Central Committee threatening to bolt the party, others threatening a lawsuit if the General Assembly does not modify the plan, and community activists scrambling to find candidates to oust the incumbents who successfully pushed for it.
The outrage is echoed in other parts of the state, where minority lawmakers are complaining that Glendening could and should have done more. Locally, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) is lending the activists his considerable political clout by joining them in condemning the governor's plan.
"Did they do anything specific to help elect minorities in Montgomery County?" Duncan asked. "No, they did not. The governor had a golden opportunity, and he walked away from it."
Duncan bucked his party last year by urging the governor to create small, single-member districts in the county, saying that would make it easier for minority candidates to win than the current system, in which three House delegates run in one large district. It put him in an odd alliance with Maryland GOP Chairman Michael Steele, who was pushing a similar idea statewide.
Glendening did create a number of single-member districts, including one in Prince George's County, but not in Montgomery.
Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill said the governor carefully balanced the goal of increasing the diversity of representation in the General Assembly with the legal requirements of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits the creation of districts solely based on race considerations.
As for District 20, Morrill said that the plan Glendening proposed was recommended by a governor-appointed commission and that "changing that recommendation would have created ripple effects across the entire state."
The story of what happened in District 20 starts with state Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D-Montgomery), who dislikes her feisty Democratic colleague in the House of Delegates, Dana Lee Dembrow. Ruben pushed the governor to kick Dembrow out of District 20. She was backed by the other members of District 20, Del. Sheila Ellis Hixson (D) and Del. Peter Franchot (D). All four are white.
The governor obliged. Montgomery County, because of population growth, is getting an additional state Senate district, increasing the county's clout in Annapolis. Glendening's plan moved Dembrow to the newly created District 14, which runs along the county's northeastern border from Burtonsville to the Damascus area.
Dembrow's departure could have meant an open seat in District 20, which encompasses parts of Takoma Park, East Silver Spring, Wheaton and Langley Park. African American, Asian American and Hispanic residents make up 54 percent of the district's population.
"It's very difficult to take on an incumbent," explained Rudy Arredondo, a member of the county's Democratic Central Committee and a founder of the Hispanic Democratic Club. "This would have offered a very good opportunity to a minority candidate."
But Ruben and her colleagues also successfully lobbied to move Del. John A. Hurson, a powerful Democrat who had philosophical conflicts with his District 18 colleagues, into District 20. The switch infuriated Arredondo and others. Not only did the governor refuse to create a single-member district in the most diverse area of the state's largest county, but opponents argued that he also effectively closed off opportunities for minorities there.
"This whole procedure must have been done in a smoke-filled room, said Elnora Harvey, who sits on the local Democratic Central Committee. "The minority communities, the African Americans, Hispanics and Asians, were cast aside. What the Democratic Party needs to remember now is that a lot of us are being courted on a daily basis by the Republican Party."
Ruben said that if Hurson had not been moved into District 20, Dembrow probably would not have been moved out, meaning there would have been no open seat for a minority candidate.
"We are now to have one of the most powerful slates in the state -- the chairman of Ways and Means, the chairman of Environmental Matters, an Appropriation subcommittee and the president pro tem of the Senate on Budget and Tax," Ruben said. "That's pretty strong representation."
Hurson said he knows he has to reach out to the people of District 20 and "prove myself." He said he carefully considered the diversity issue and came to this conclusion: "I think that this plan is actually better for minorities," he said. "Now it's our job to go out and talk to people and convince them of that."
Montgomery County Council member Isiah Leggett (D-At Large), an African American who sat on the governor's redistricting commission, agreed.
He said it was never clear that there would be an open seat in District 20 since Dembrow could run for reelection there simply by moving into the home of a family member. Dembrow said he has not yet decided what to do. He either will run for state Senate in District 14 or for reelection in District 20. If he does the latter, he said he would form a minority slate to challenge the incumbents.
More important, Leggett said, the governor's map creates good opportunities for minorities in places other than District 20.
"What I tried to do is create opportunities," Leggett said. "And the biggest hurdle for minorities or any other candidate to overcome is incumbency."
Leggett said that because Hurson has been moved, District 18 has two open seats. That district, although 65 percent white, is 18 percent Hispanic, the same percentage as District 20. A Hispanic candidate who has run there in the past is considering running, and both Leggett and Hurson believe that the plan would help her win.
In District 15, two Asian American Democrats are running for the House. The district has an open seat and is 16 percent Asian American.
One Asian American candidate, Jinhee Kim Wilde, is grateful to Leggett and the governor. Initially, plans called for seriously cutting into the Asian base in District 15 by moving several Democratic precincts into the district represented by Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, who switched to the Democratic Party in 2000. Though protecting Hogan was a top priority of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., in the end, only a few precincts were moved.
"It could have been a lot better, but it was not as bad as we once feared," Wilde said. "If it wasn't for Ike Leggett stepping in we would have gotten seriously hurt."
For Leggett, the best opportunity for minority candidates lies in the newly created District 14. Though it is 60 percent white, it would have three open House seats. Leggett said a number of black candidates are considering running.
But one that he named, Mike Dupuy, a former NAACP board member who has run for several political offices, called Leggett's reasoning a "red herring." Like Harvey, Dupuy said the situation has him thinking of joining the GOP.
"This is being spun to look like a good deal, but look at the demographics -- it's absolutely unacceptable," he said. "They've thrown the kerosene on the floor and someone is going to light a match -- a lot of us are talking and there's a lot of heat."
Though politically it has proved difficult for the General Assembly to change the governor's plan, it can be done. Tracy Terrell, president of the African American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, said she believes that a minority can be elected in District 14. Still, she plans to join Hispanic and Asian activists in mounting a lobbying campaign in Annapolis.
"We hope that the governor himself listens to the outrage, and I assume he will because I don't think he wants to be the governor that causes activists t
Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposed redistricting plan has provoked grumbling among a handful of Prince George's legislators who will have to run against each other to stay in office.
Democrat Dels. Mary A. Conroy, Joan B. Pitkin and James W. Hubbard, all of Bowie, say they have built a strong alliance representing residents of the 23rd Senatorial District, an area that includes Bowie.
But under Glendening's plan, which is subject to General Assembly approval, the district would be split, cramming the three incumbents into one area and creating a neighboring single-member district to encourage minority representation.
Pitkin, Conroy and Hubbard would have to wrestle over two seats. The fight would force state Sen. Leo E. Green (D-Bowie) into the awkward position of choosing two of them for his slate.
"Don't ask me that!" Green said when asked whom he would pick. In the past, his campaign slate has included all three delegates.
"It's a very sensitive situation," he said with a sigh.
It would be less sensitive if one of the three would find an alternative vocation. But all three are promising to run.
"I'm going to run hard and I'm going to win," Pitkin said.
Hubbard, who dismissed speculation that he may challenge Green, pledged cooperation with his colleagues during the session. Then the hard part will come. "As a group we'll have to sit down and tell each other what we're doing," he said. "It's awkward and uncomfortable."
Del. John A. Giannetti Jr. (D-Laurel) is also feeling the pinch. Under Glendening's plan, his District 13B is being folded into one that already has a trio of incumbents, Dels. Barbara Frush (D-Calverton), Pauline H. Menes (D-College Park), and Brian R. Moe (D-Laurel), who have run on a slate with state Sen. Arthur Dorman (D-Beltsville).
Which means there's no spot for Giannetti. The 37-year-old lawyer, who was elected to the House in 1998, is considering his options, which include challenging Dorman. "I would prefer to be on his team, but there's no room," Giannetti said.
That's not the case everywhere, however. There's plenty of room in the newly proposed 47th Senatorial District, which includes Cheverly and Bladensburg. Former state senator Tommie Broadwater Jr. wants the seat, and last weekend he hosted his first fundraiser. No one else has said they plan to run, although state Del. Darren M. Swain (D) says he's seriously considering it.
The county's top Democrats, including Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Clinton), had tapped state Del. Rushern L. Baker III for that seat. But Baker wants to be county executive. Bladensburg Mayor David Harrington, another choice of Democratic leaders, is leaning toward running for the council.
A Broadwater-Swain matchup would put County Executive Wayne K. Curry in his own awkward position. Broadwater baby-sat Curry when he was child and has served as his mentor and adviser. Swain is a Curry protÈgÈ.
Broadwater, 59, was forced to leave office in 1984 after he was convicted of food stamp fraud and lost three comeback campaigns. Nevertheless, he says he doesn't need Curry's support, or endorsements from the political establishment to draw voters. "I'll win," he promises.
County Republicans are hoping that the anticipated new legislative boundary lines, which they say will close the gap between the number of registered Republicans and Democrats in the county, will help them hold on to a state Senate seat that Democrats think they should have captured long ago.
For years, Republican Martin G. Madden frustrated Democrats by winning the seat in the heavily Democratic District 13. Both of the district's representatives to the Maryland House of Delegates are Democrats.
But the new boundary lines proposed last week by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) -- and expected to become law in the next few weeks -- would chip away at the Democrat's heavy advantage, Republican party leaders said. In 2000, there were about 36,000 registered Democrats and 21,000 registered Republicans in the district. Comparable figures for the proposed boundary lines are expected to be released soon by the county's Board of Elections.
The Democrats, however, plan to seek the seat with renewed vigor, putting up veteran County Council member C. Vernon Gray in November against incumbent Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, the Republican who was appointed to the seat this month after Madden resigned. Gray, a five-term council member, is no longer eligible to run for his East Columbia seat on the council because of term limits.
"It's a screaming target for a pickup on the Senate level," said Neil Quinter, a member of the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.
In an interview this week, Gray, 62, said he is 90 percent sure he will challenge Schrader, who was Madden's legislative assistant for 11 years. Schrader, 48, hopes to capitalize on whatever advantage incumbency might bring in running against one of Howard's most veteran politicians.
"I am the incumbent," she said, adding that she hopes to build name recognition and gain experience in this General Assembly session. Already, Schrader seems to be gearing up for the November election.
"I'm running really hard," said Schrader, who has been a substitute teacher in Howard schools and president of the Howard County Arts Council. "I'm going to be knocking on doors and waving signs and doing all I can to represent the folks in the district. Even though the Democrats outnumber the Republicans, the people of this district look at the person, not the political party."
In what could be one of the most interesting local political races in years, Gray will focus on fundraising and meeting with constituents, he said. (The new district would run from western Columbia to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, picking up River Hill and parts of Anne Arundel County.)
It could be a tough campaign, but the redistricting "could have been a whole lot worse," said Louis M. Pope, chairman of the County Republican Central Committee. "I don't see that district as any sure thing for Vernon Gray."
The lines also have been drawn so that the county will get a third seat in what is now District 13A. Currently, that district is represented by Dels. Frank S. Turner and Shane Pendergrass, both Democrats. Quinter said he is interested in running, and Pope said the Republicans have several possible candidates who are eyeing the position.
Meanwhile, ifthe new lines are approved, Republican Del. Donald E. Murphy, who now represents District 12A in northeast Howard, would be lumped into District 10, a largely Democratic, African American area of Baltimore County that would be virtually impossible for a Republican to win.
"They really stuck it to me," he said. "If I'm not worthy of coming back, why don't they let the people of my district decide?"
The Republicans might have to be content, however, to keep control of western Howard. Robert H. Kittleman (R-Howard), who had served in the House for nine years, was appointed this month to the state Senate seat held by Christopher J. McCabe, who took a job with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Republicans expect to name a replacement for Kittleman in the House later this month. So far, Gail Bates, a legislative assistant to Murphy; Trent Kittleman, a lawyer who is married to Robert Kittleman; and Anthony Wisniewski, a lawyer from Ellicott City, have expressed interest.
The GOP is confident it will be able to hold on to the seat.
"That's pretty much a very safe Republican seat," Pope said.
But parts of southern Howard that lean Republicanwould be shifted into District 21, a primarily Democratic district that lies mostly in Prince George's County.
"That hurts us," Pope said.
If District 21 crosses over into Howard, the district's three delegates and a senator, all Democrats, would be added to Howard's delegation.
African-American political leaders didn't get all that they wanted in the governor's redistricting plan, but they appear to have fared better than they initially thought and now might drop their threats of a lawsuit.
After a thorough look at Gov. Parris N. Glendening's map, members of the General Assembly's Legislative Black Caucus say they believe the plan will yield at least four new African-American legislators and perhaps as many as eight.
Some black political leaders were hoping for a gain of 12 African-Americans in the Assembly, which would bring the total to 50. But several now say they believe the governor's proposal offers reasonable opportunities for black candidates.
"This is what this plan provides, opportunity," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat. "I think we did pretty well."
If this year's election plays out as Rawlings and others anticipate, African-Americans would gain seats in Prince George's, Howard, Somerset and Frederick counties.
When the governor's plan was introduced in the legislature Wednesday, some black lawmakers immediately spoke of lawsuits, in particular because of concern that any loss of black lawmakers in Baltimore's 44th District might lead to a decrease in minority representation statewide.
Del. Talmadge Branch, chairman of the black caucus, and Rawlings, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said a lawyer from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund is reviewing the governor's map to ensure that it conforms to federal voting laws and protects African-American representation statewide.
But after reviewing the numbers, they said they are pleased overall with Glendening's plan and don't expect to find a basis to file suit. Not only do they expect the number of African-American lawmakers to increase, but they also expect a minimal loss of seats held by blacks in Baltimore, where the state experienced the largest population decline.
There are 38 African-Americans -- nine senators and 29 delegates -- in the 188-member General Assembly.
Over the past decade, Maryland's black population grew by more than 287,000, accounting for more than half of the state's population increase of 515,000. With that growth -- largely in Prince George's County, which had an increase of 132,759 in its black population -- African-American political leaders began pushing for greater representation in Annapolis.
Here is where lawmakers believe African-Americans are likely to win seats in the legislature:
… In Prince George's County, a new majority-black 47th District creates a Senate seat and three delegate seats for a wide-open race in the southeast area of the county, close to Washington. And a new single-member district, 23-B, has been designed for black community activist Marvin Holmes in Bowie, should he pursue office as expected.
… In Howard County, the governor drew lines for a 13th District Senate seat that has become known as the "C. Vernon Gray seat." Gray, who is black, plans to announce his candidacy in the spring. He is a 20-year county councilman and a Morgan State University political science professor.
Gray would have to defeat Republican Sen. Sandra B. Schrader, who was appointed last week to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Martin G. Madden. While the new district does not have an African-American majority -- the black population stands at just over 24 percent -- it has been Gray's base in the County Council for two decades.
… Crisfield Police Chief Ernest J. Leatherbury, a black retired state police trooper, said he is considering a run for a new single-member delegate seat in District 37-A that was created for him in Somerset County on the Eastern Shore. Leatherbury narrowly lost a race for delegate four years ago. The new single-member district is expected to secure a victory for him, if he decides to run again.
… An eighth seat has been crafted in largely Republican Frederick County's new District 3-A, which is made up mostly of the city of Frederick.
Black lawmakers said they are not counting on gains in Montgomery County districts where African-Americans are considering runs because there is no district in that county with a majority black population.
"What this map clearly does is open the door in the legislature to reflect the diversity of Maryland," said Michael Morrill, a spokesman for the governor. "When you look at the whole picture, this is a plan that accomplishes that."
One key question is what will happen in Baltimore's 44th District, where Sens. Clarence M. Mitchell IV and George W. Della Jr. would face each other. Mitchell is black and Della is white. In addition to the senators, five incumbent delegates -- three black and two white -- would compete for three seats.
"The wildcard in this whole thing is the 44th District," Branch said.
Though he's inclined to move a congressional district from Baltimore to the Maryland suburbs of Washington, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and his political mapmakers now believe the city provides a better foundation for increasing Democratic strength in Maryland's congressional delegation.
Partisan motivation aside, we believe that shift in strategy would benefit the entire state as well as Democrats.
Of course, we believe that any truly democratic system must tie representation as closely to population as possible. But the process of putting an equal number of voters in each of the state's eight congressional districts is tricky, and inherently influenced by politics.
There is no "right" way to draw the lines separating the districts; decisions get made respecting historical boundaries and other factors. Subjective judgments -- from the demands of incumbent congressmen to the needs of an impoverished city -- must always be made in redistricting exercises. In this case, Maryland and Baltimore would both benefit from Mr. Glendening's plan.
Mr. Glendening wants to see the state's delegation broken down this way: six Democrats and two Republicans. That's more representative of the state's makeup than the current 4-4 split. His best hope for accomplishing that shift, his redistricting team now believes, flows from Democrat-laden Baltimore.
At least eight of every 10 registered voters in the city are Democrats. That base, now divided largely between two congressional districts, would support a third under the still-evolving Glendening plan. Enough solid Democratic city precincts could be transferred to the 2nd Congressional District, now represented by Republican Robert Ehrlich, to make it winnable by Democrats.
Within the inevitably pragmatic boundaries of this political process, Baltimore Democrats deserve grateful consideration from the Democratic Party. The city reliably delivers for Democratic candidates -- even as it has shrunk from about 950,000 residents at its peak in 1950 to 635,000 or so today. Its future therefore resides in new regional alignments in which the city and adjoining counties work together and share political representation. That breakthrough has occurred in Mr. Glendening's legislative district map and would be enhanced by shared congressional districts.
The word redistricting may induce a kind of narcolepsy in everyone outside insider politics. It's fraught with numbers -- measurements, for example, of Democratic or Republican "voter performance." Every player wants to influence how the numbers work. In the current process, Democratic Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin (3rd) and Elijah E. Cummings (7th) are called upon to make room for a third city-based district. Each of them already represents many suburban voters and would have to accept more. They ought to do so readily if not eagerly.
Both need to exercise restraint, flexibility and pragmatism -- on behalf of the city they represent. Democrats should want to fashion a Baltimore-oriented district in which another Democrat can win. In a state where voter registration figures favor Democrats -- and where Democrats are in control -- that objective cannot be a surprise.
The process should leave the Baltimore region with three congressional districts. Democrats can and should arrange this result. They have been the party of the cities and the beneficiaries of big Democratic majorities in cities. As managers of Maryland's well-being, moreover, Democrats cannot avoid the needs of its major city, which remains important economically and culturally.
It is possible (though probably not likely) that a Republican would win any of the newly formed districts. Depending on the candidate, we'd welcome that result as the fruit of democracy. Republicans should become more city sensitive -- and would, if required to represent large portions of Baltimore.
A slight change in Gov. Parris N. Glendening's legislative redistricting plan for Maryland could leave one of three incumbent Carroll delegates without a job come November.
Under the original redistricting plan, three at-large delegates would have represented the redrawn 5th District, which would include a large chunk of Carroll and the northern part of Baltimore County. The revised plan, however, subdivides the district, drawing a line nearly along the border of Carroll and Baltimore counties, leaving Carroll two delegates and assigning northern Baltimore County its own delegate. The new plan would force some Carroll residents in and around Hampstead to vote for the new Baltimore County delegate seat.
Under the original redistricting proposal presented last month, Carroll Republican incumbents Nancy R. Stocksdale, Joseph M. Getty and Carmen Amedori could have vied to fill the 5th District's three at-large seats in the House of Delegates.
But with subdistricts created and one of three 5th District seats now slated for a Baltimore County resident, the three Republican incumbents face the unhappy prospect of running against one another for the two remaining seats.
The General Assembly could further alter the plan, but political observers deem that unlikely.
"We respect each other as legislators, and we work very well together, so it does put us in a precarious position having to think about running against each other," Amedori said.
Added Getty: "It's very tough. We work well together as a team, and that's unusual for Annapolis."
Stocksdale did not return telephone calls but has said she probably would seek re-election and does not plan to move. Getty and Amedori said the three will spend the next few weeks discussing their intentions for the November elections.
Amedori has the fewest family ties in her district and she would consider moving to South Carroll and running in the new single-delegate district there, she said. Such a move would leave Getty and Stocksdale to run for the two Carroll seats in the 5th District.
"That could be a solution," said Getty, who has no plans to leave his home in Manchester or step away from the Assembly. "But I think we'll spend some time digesting what's happened."
Getty and other leaders in Republican-dominated Carroll said the county has become a pawn in a Glendening scheme to jam as many Republicans into as few districts as possible, clearing the rest of the state for Democratic rule. The governor has splintered Carroll's legislative map, combining the southern part of the county with the Howard County-dominated 9th District, adding about 32,000 Baltimore County voters to the 5th District and leaving a sliver of western Carroll in a district controlled by Frederick County.
The plan would leave Carroll with more total representatives but none who would represent the county exclusively.
"I've said all along that my major disappointment with the governor's plan is that it fractures us into all these shared districts," Getty said. "And the obvious result of that is a fractured voice in Annapolis."
The plan has drawn criticism from Democrats as well.
"This redistricting is lousy. It cuts up the county," said state Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, for years the lone Democrat in Carroll's House delegation. "Every one of our legislators has to serve two masters. It is not good. There will be less voice for Carroll."
Dixon said the county needs a Democratic representative, however, because Democrats run Annapolis and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Besides the broader indignities, Getty said, the governor's plan would create some smaller peculiarities. For example, voters on one side of Main Street in Hampstead would vote for the two delegates from Carroll while voters on the other side would vote for the 5th District's lone delegate from Baltimore County. The governor had to shave off a small portion of Carroll voters and add them to Baltimore County so that subdistrict would have enough voters.
"I thought the guidelines for this process said existing communities shouldn't be broken up," Getty said. "I don't think what you see in Hampstead fits in very well with that."
The original redistricting map was drawn by a committee of four Democrats and a Republican appointed by Glendening. The redistricting panel is charged with recommending to the governor changes to the state's legislative map to reflect population changes in the 2000 Census. The revised plan, submitted by Glendening on Wednesday, becomes law after 45 days, meaning it will be in effect for the 2002 elections.
Republicans and Democrats have already begun searching for candidates to run for the newly created House seat in South Carroll. Democrats consider moderate South Carroll the county's most fertile ground for their party, although there are still more registered Republicans than Democrats in the area. Amedori represents South Carroll now and said she'd be a strong candidate if she decided to move and run for the new seat.
"It's not like I'd be a stranger down there," she said. "It's still basically a good conservative area."
Local party leaders have said they don't particularly care who holds which seat as long as Republicans control the entire county.
"It's not necessarily my job to protect individual candidates," said Robert M. Wolfing, chairman of the county's Republican State Central Committee. "My main interest is to protect all our seats for the party, and I like our chances."
Amedori said she's not sure when she'll announce her intentions but said it will be during the current General Assembly session, scheduled to end April 8.
If voters see her knocking on doors in South Carroll, she joked, they can take the hint that she will run there.
Against all odds, the festival of democracy known as redistricting may actually help the voters. It may result, for example, in a shredding of city-county or county-county boundaries that stifle power in a region already suffering low wattage.
Since 1991, Baltimore and Baltimore County have shared seven legislative districts: Some precincts lie in the city, some in the county. Now, with another re-balancing of district populations at hand, the sharing has grown. In all, Baltimore County will share 10 districts with its neighbors, including the city.
If you set aside the squeals of unhappy legislators who may have to work harder to win, you could argue that redistricting represents a new and far more realistic view of this region. Poverty, crime, blight, trouble in schools, transportation matters and a basket full of other concerns do not respect boundaries.
David Rusk, an urban scholar and former mayor of Albuquerque, N.M., wrote years ago that the Baltimore region needs regionalism - and cooperative effort of all its political representatives. He and his study, which tried to show how we're all in the same leaky boat, went nowhere. The politicians were not going to defy the voters.
But now, in the guise of redistricting, we may observe a form of forced regionalism, something elected officials would never even discuss.
Political power depends quite properly on population, and since Maryland's people are now concentrating in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, the metropolitan Baltimore region loses clout. Cross-boundary lines could get us back in the game.
We must thank Parris N. Glendening, a very political governor from the Washington 'burbs. Does he really want to help Baltimore? Yes.
Having offered himself as a national leader on the educational and environmental fronts, he hopes this year to make a bid for political prominence. He wants to change the very balance of power in Washington.
No, it's not a delusion of grandeur. Mr. Glendening could do it - or claim to have done it, which in politics can be just as good.
Here's the plan.
The governor presides over redistricting, a re-drawing of Maryland's legislative and congressional district lines. It is that process that shreds city-county lines. The cross-boundary state legislative districts help city Democrats, often by taking voters from Baltimore County. That has drawn yelps - but, again, the result could help voters and the region. Why won't legislators applaud that? We know the answer.
At the same time, the governor hopes a new, Democrat-drawn layout will help him send six Democrats to the U.S. House of Representatives, where power will shift to Democrats if they make sufficient gains nationwide.
A governor who produces two more Dems while un-electing two Republicans could look like a power broker.
Voters in Maryland's eight congressional districts have recently sent four members of each party to the House. But redistricting allows a governor to creatively stack, pack and crack voting precincts in ways that aggregate his party's strength while diluting the GOP's.
Baltimore and surrounding counties gain because mapmakers will honor the power and reliability of the Democratic Party's most reliable bloc of voters. This will help the region by retaining its strength in Washington, from whence cometh most of the help upon which an inner city relies.
African-Americans stand as the fulcrum for moving the process back to the Baltimore area. There are enough black voters in the city, according to this theory, to allow one, two or three congressional districts to be significantly muscled up by their presence.
The governor and his mapmakers have all but abandoned a plan that would put four congressional districts in the D.C. suburbs, leaving Baltimore with (shudder) only two.
They've apparently decided they'd be more likely to get the six Democrats and two Republicans they want by playing from their strength: Baltimore's African-American voters, who go for Democrats by huge margins year after election year.
In a leading version of the congressional plan, one of the new configurations is being called "the Ruppersberger" district by insiders. Yes, the mapmakers tailor their product to individual candidates, in this case C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, the Baltimore County executive.
Some are warning that the African-American power might not stretch far enough. They're urging the governor to be careful, and that he may have to settle for a 5-3 split at best.
All this shifting and shaving of precincts may or may not help the anointed beneficiaries.
But if the shared legislative and congressional districts remain intact, and if the Baltimore region keeps three congressmen - and if the political players see their opportunity - the realignments of 2002 could give the city and its surrounding counties new political life.
Northern Calvert County residents are objecting to a legislative redistricting plan proposed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) that would place the Owings area in a district that falls largely in Prince George's County.
Glendening's plan, which was submitted to the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday, would include portions of Calvert and Charles counties, with a total population of 15,000 residents, in District 27A.
Glendening followed the recommendation of his redistricting committee, despite opposition from northern Calvert residents who said they want to continue to be represented by a delegate from their county.
"This was not a surprise," Gail Wallace, president of the Owings Area Community Association, said of Glendening's announcement. "And that was the key thing. So many said they weren't going to bother writing a letter because they felt this was a done deal.
"It was handled quietly and put through right around the holidays, and I don't think that was an accident. . . . I do believe they did that so they would not have citizen outrage."
In December, the redistricting committee announced its proposed map for the state. The panel, whose members were appointed by Glendening, included Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's and Calvert), who represents Senate District 27.
Currently, Calvert is covered by two legislative districts. District 27B, which covers the part of the county roughly north of Hunting Creek Road and Pond Woods Road around Huntingtown, is now represented by Miller and Del. George W. Owings III (D-Calvert and Anne Arundel).
District 29C, which covers the county south of there, is now represented by Sen. Roy P. Dyson (D) and Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell (R).
Under the new plan, the boundary line for District 29C would be pushed southward to Sixes Road, south of Prince Frederick. District 27B would then cover the rest of the county, except for voting Precinct 03/04 in Owings. That area would shift to District 27A, the predominantly Prince George's district.
The boundaries of that area are roughly: Route 4 to the east, Skinners Turn Road to the south, the border just before the town limits of North Beach and Chesapeake Beach to the west, and the county line to the north. District 27 is now represented by Miller and two legislators from Prince George's County: Del. James E. Proctor Jr. (D) and Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D).
"I don't think it makes a lot of sense," said Calvert County Commissioners President David F. Hale (R-Owings). "If 90 percent of your constituents are in P.G. County, that's where you have to spend your time."
Hale lives in the Owings area that would be affected by the redistricting -- a fact that he and others don't feel is coincidental, because Democrats were behind the new maps.
"I think it's rather telling that the roads used to bound this new district run within a quarter-mile of my house," Hale said.
"I hate to think that where I live dictates state redistricting -- I don't think I'm that important -- but it does force me to run in P.G. County if I run for the State House," he said.
Not just Republicans are upset about the plan. Grace Mary Brady, chairwoman of Calvert's Democratic Central Committee, also urged the governor to reconsider the proposal.
"I wanted him to leave Calvert County intact, represented by delegates who live in Calvert County only," Brady said.
The plan has drawn less opposition in Charles, where 9,000 residents north and west of Waldorf would be absorbed into District 27A.
The proposal has also worried Calvert election officials, who face the logistical challenge of creating a "different ballot style" for one precinct.
"It's a whole different voting district," said Gail Hatfield, elections administrator for Calvert County. "They're going to be voting for Prince George's County people. They're going to have to have a whole 'nother ballot."
Glendening's plan will become final
unless changed by the legislature.