CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Maryland Legislative Committee OKs Draft of Congressional Map

A Maryland Legislative Advisory Committee on Tuesday chose a proposed congressional map that would realign one of the state’s districts to offer more competition for the only Republican representative on Capitol Hill.

By a 4-2 vote, the 1st Congressional District, overseen by Rep. Andy Harris, would stretch across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge into portions of Democratic neighborhoods in Anne Arundel County. The district currently runs north and south with a heavy GOP influence along the Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore, Harford and Carroll counties.

The vote serves as a starting point for the legislature to review and grant formal approval of a congressional map during a special session in Annapolis on Dec. 6.

House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke of Montgomery County said this map concept also allows at least three other districts to become more competitive and allows voters to understand their perspective districts. For instance, some recognizable Baltimore City streets would serve as boundaries instead of “block-wide districts.”

“It is more compact and more contiguous than our current maps,” said Luedtke, one of the four Democrats who voted in favor of the proposed map. “There’s no such thing as a perfect map. This is a much better map than what we have.”

A part of the map would shift Maryland’s state capital of Annapolis in Anne Arundel into the 4th Congressional District, where Rep. Anthony Brown will vacate his House seat to seek the office of Maryland attorney general. The population data shows the district, which includes a portion of Prince George’s County, would house the state’s largest Black population with 419,596 out of the total 733,616 residents.

Senate President Pro Tem Melony Griffith of Prince George’s County, another Democrat who also served on the legislative committee, called the committee’s 10 in-person hearings and two statewide virtual sessions “a very transparent process of citizen engagement.”

The other two top Democratic lawmakers on the committee who voted in favor of the proposed map are House Speaker Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County and Senate President Bill Ferguson of Baltimore City.

The two Republicans, Del. Jason Buckel of Alleghany County and Sen. Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel, opposed the map.

The GOP lawmakers said a Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission appointed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan keeps some of the eight districts intact. In addition, it would provide an opportunity for a second Republican to be elected to Congress.

A Princeton University “Gerrymandering Project” released a report card on Nov. 11 grading Maryland’s redistricting efforts, giving the citizens commission an “A” on partisan fairness. The four maps from the legislative group, however, received an “F.”

“The [Maryland] citizen’s map is out there and much more compact,” Simonarie said. “It would seem if these [maps] are the most gerrymandered in the United States, we would start anew.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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