MD Redistricting Arm Advances Map That Would Make Rep. Andy Harris’s District More Competitive
Updated: Dec 3, 2021
By Meagan Flynn, Washington Post
November 23, 2021|Updated November 24, 2021 at 10:58 a.m. EST
Maryland’s lone Republican congressman is likely to see his district get more competitive in the midterms under a redistricting proposal that state lawmakers on Tuesday voted to send to the General Assembly.
Out of four proposals, the Maryland Legislative Redistricting Commission selected a map that notably changes Rep. Andy Harris’s Eastern Shore-anchored district by crossing the Chesapeake Bay to include parts of Anne Arundel County. The proposal would surely make the district friendlier to Democrats but still gives Harris a viable shot at reelection, since the proposed district would just bypass blue Annapolis instead of taking in areas including Crofton, Maryland City and Severna Park. Annapolis would move from the 3rd District to the 4th.
The seven-member commission voted 4-to-2 along party lines to approve the map, with Chairman Karl Aro abstaining. The map will now go to the General Assembly ahead of its Dec. 6 special session to approve a map — accounting for population changes after the latest census — and lawmakers can continue to adjust the map as they see fit.
However the Maryland General Assembly ultimately redraws Harris’s district will prove pivotal for national Democrats, who, with only a slim majority in the House, are hoping to hang onto every advantage they can get in congressional redistricting. Republicans control far more state legislatures in charge of redistricting than Democrats, leaving Maryland as one of few where Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the State House. And some Maryland residents have advocated for giving Harris a run for his money in part over his objection to the election results on Jan. 6.
A decade ago, however, Maryland Democrats faced criticism and legal complaints over nakedly partisan gerrymandering to give them a 7-1 advantage over Republicans, resulting in the state’s eye-straining congressional map. And they are likely to face scrutiny from anti-gerrymandering groups again.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) launched an independent advisory commission that he tasked with redistricting and that completed its own proposal, but Tuesday’s vote again makes clear legislative Democrats are set on a different direction.
On Tuesday morning, Hogan told a Baltimore radio host that “we have the distinction of the worst gerrymandered districts in America.” He added that the legislature was “trying to cheat with the maps” in ways that benefit Democrats.
Hogan has said he would also submit the map drawn by his citizen advisory committee for legislators to accept.
“If they don’t do it, and they come up with something that’s egregious, I’m fairly certain that it will be taken to court,” Hogan told a Baltimore radio host on Tuesday. “And if it’s a gerrymandered map, I’ll veto it.”
The governor acknowledged that Democrats have supermajorities that could override him, but he thought it would be “politically painful” for them to do so.
The map that the commission advanced still strains the eye, but strains the eye a bit less than the current makeup, as two Republican lawmakers were quick to point out.
Read more Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/11/23/maryland-redistricting-harris/