Democrats Reach across Aisle to Oppose Redistricting; Say Rejecting Map Is Only Fix to Gerrymandering
Byline: David Hill, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Maryland Republicans are driving efforts to overturn the state's newly drawn congressional map in a referendum next month, but they are joined by a number of Democrats who say their own party has gone too far in crafting districts for political gain.
Numerous Montgomery County Democrats are scheduled to hold a news conference Monday in Rockville during which they are expected to urge a no vote on ballot Question 5, which would reject the district map drawn last year by Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and approved by the General Assembly.
Critics have accused the map's makers of lumping disparate communities together and diluting minority influence in an effort to give Democrats the majority in most districts. Opponents hope they can overturn the map and force the governor to draw a fairer one in time for the 2014 elections, but their ultimate goal is to establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission they say is the only solution to gerrymandering.
Since political parties gerrymander whenever they can, Maryland needs an independent redistricting commission, said Montgomery County Council member Phil Andrews, a Democrat. But there is no chance the governor and General Assembly will establish one unless Marylanders first reject this extreme gerrymander.
Last year's approved congressional map raised the ire of Republicans and many black Democrats, who waged an unsuccessful lawsuit against the map before gathering enough voter signatures to have it put on next month's ballot.
The vote on Question 5 will not affect this year's congressional elections. But if voters reject the ballot initiative, the governor and assembly would have to repeat the redistricting process and approve a new map in time for 2014.
Many skeptics have questioned the strategy behind the referendum, arguing that the governor and Democratic lawmakers are unlikely to draw a drastically different plan if the current one is overturned.
Every 10 years, the governor appoints a five-member committee to redraw the state's congressional and legislative districts to account for population changes. The committee submits its recommended maps to the assembly.
Opponents were able to petition the congressional map to referendum because it was passed as law by the assembly. …