The Maryland General Assembly will hold a special session Dec. 6 to approve a new congressional map that currently has seven out of eight Democrats representing the state in Congress.
While lawmakers discuss whether to draw new boundaries, a nine-member panel appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan submitted proposed congressional and legislative maps Nov. 5, which it claims to be without partisan gerrymandering.
Hogan said it marked the first time since 1790 that the state has had a Republican governor in office during a redistricting cycle. He criticized how “political power brokers” have conducted the redistricting process behind closed doors “rigging the system to eliminate competition . . . ”
“This is exactly the kind of formula that leaves people to doubt whether their democracy is truly working for them which is why this time we want to make sure the people of Maryland are drawing the lines and not the politicians or the party bosses,” he said alongside some members of the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission in Annapolis. “The citizens will actually get to pick their representatives.”
Retired judge Alexander Williams Jr., a registered Democrat from Prince George’s County who served on the commission, said more than 4,100 people logged onto four statewide and eight regional meetings held virtually. In addition, the commission reviewed 86 maps submitted by residents.
“We didn’t agree on everything but we came up with what we think would be reasonable maps that were transparent and independent and we think are fair,” he said. “We are truly proud of the accomplishment of the commission.”
The redistricting process conducted every 10 years remains based on U.S. Census data which reflects changes in the population. But some political insiders have viewed the state as one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation with limited GOP representation on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Maryland) remains the sole GOP member in the federal delegation. And although his 1st district along the Eastern Shore remains heavily conservative, former Del. Heather Mizeur seeks the Democratic nomination to challenge Harris in next year’s general election.
RepresentUs, an anti-gerrymandering group, published a report in May and called this year’s cycle in Maryland “extreme.”
A nonprofit group called Fair Maps Maryland insists lawmakers review and accept the commission’s maps.
Hogan can submit the maps but the Democratic-controlled legislature doesn’t have to approve them.
A legislative advisory group led by House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson continue to hold in-person and virtual meetings statewide.
Fellow Democrats on the group include Senate President Pro Tem Melony Griffith (D-District 25) of Upper Marlboro and House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke of Montgomery County.
The two Republicans in the group include House Majority Leader Jason Buckel of Allegany County and Senate Majority Leader Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel County.
Karl Aro, who has 32 years of redistricting experience and former executive director of the non-partisan Department of Legislative Services, will serve as the chair of the commission.
The advisory group released four proposed congressional maps Tuesday, Nov. 9 that seeks to redraw the state’s eight congressional districts.
Aro said in a statement the maps represent “a starting point for an approach that was grounded in testimony the commission heard.”
The group will hold a statewide session online to review the maps at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15 and a final redistricting meeting Thursday, Nov. 18 focusing on Harford and Cecil counties.
Locally, Prince George’s County Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday, Nov. 16 on two proposed redistricting maps and has until Nov. 30 to approve a formal map slated to remain in place until 2030.