I don't know what to tell you, friends. The overwhelmingly liberal Old Line State is screwing Republicans with a proposed redistricting plan that would edge out one of Maryland's Congressional Republicans, giving Democrats a 7-to-1 majority Congressional delegation.
It was rumored for months, and it seems the rumors are true. The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (who is seen as a potential future Presidential candidate) is using the redistricting committee as a weapon against House Republicans in an effort to help Democrats take back the House and re-install Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.
From the article:
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s redistricting commission will release a plan in coming days to attempt to harness the Washington area’s surging — and largely Democratic —population growth over the last decade to help Democrats retake control of the House of Representatives.
How far O’Malley (D) is willing to go to achieve that goal is now the question.
According to interviews and drafts of two leading proposals obtained by The Washington Post, O’Malley and a cadre of the state’s top Democratic lawmakers are engaged in a secretive, final round of negotiations over whether to go further than expected and try to unseat not one but potentially both of Maryland’s Republican congressmen.
At a minimum, the maps make clear that O’Malley will seek to oust Western Maryland’s 10-term Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R) by moving a swath of liberal Montgomery County voters into the traditionally conservative 6th Congressional District.
WaPo got their hands on two proposals, which you can see here. It appears, however, that the actual proposed district plan is a hybrid of the two aforementioned plans. Here is a link to the PowerPoint proposal acquired byWaPo.
The 1st District (Eastern Shore Counties, part of Harford, Baltimore, and Anne Arundel Counties), represented by former Republican State Senator Andy Harris, picks up more Republican voters by dumping Anne Arundel and stretching West to Carroll County. Originally, Democrats wanted to take out Harris and replace him with Frank Kratovil, who defeated Harris by less than 3,000 votes in the 2008 election. Doing so would mean a major change in the lines of the Democrat-held districts which slice-and-dice Baltimore city, so it appears they scrapped that idea.
Where a majority of the proverbial "screwing" happens is in Western Maryland, where Democrats have targeted 10-term incumbent Roscoe Bartlett, a peculiar-but-likeable Congressman, whose non-interventionist stance on foreign policy is due largely to his strongly-held religious beliefs. He also sides with Democrats on many civil liberties issues and on alternative energy. (Side note: Dr. Bartlett is a brilliant inventor and scientist, who holds a number of patents on inventions which improved breathing devices used by astronauts, pilots, and fire/rescue personnel.)
The Hill reports this morning that Bartlett is the top target for Maryland Dems:
Bartlett's new district wouldn't be a slam-dunk for Democrats if he ran — he has an unorthodox voting record, including support of some Democratic positions on renewable energy and civil liberties, and the new district leans Democratic, but not overhwelmingly so. But the 85-year-old might choose against running in his first tough race in decades.
Democrats had pondered targeting both Republicans, but that would have forced a complete rejiggering of the current map and could have put some of their own incumbents at risk.
Tough race, indeed. If you overlay the old State Senate districts onto the new proposed Congressional Districts, you begin to understand exactly what the Democrats want to do.
It seems as though the entirety of the Montgomery County addition to the proposed 6th District is currently represented by Senate Democrat Leader Rob Garagiola, who spent part of the 2010 cycle campaigning in Frederick County for the Democrat candidate for State Senate. There's very little doubt that he plans to run if (merely a formality, when) the new districts are approved by the legislature in a special session this year.
Full Disclosure: I worked on a State Senate race in Mid-Maryland last year (the district sits squarely in the current 6th Congressional District). Maryland is a tough landscape for Republicans, but they routinely capture between 30% and 40% for state-wide candidates.
Reason would suggest that - were redistricting handled proportionately, rather than politically - Republicans would hold 3 Congressional Districts. That's not the reality. And it appears from the proposed map that Maryland Democrats aren't finished screwing over Maryland Republicans.
UPDATE: The Maryland GOP released a statement on the Democrat redistricting plan:
In response to the release of Governor O'Malley's partisan, Democrat-designed congressional map that outrageously gerrymanders the state of Maryland, Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney made the following statement:
"This map is an insult to the people of Maryland. It ignores the people's plea for a fair map that respects geographic boundaries and protects minority rights," said Chairman Mooney. "Governor O'Malley and his stacked partisan Democrat committee have created a map with the singular goal of carving up the Western part of Maryland and defeating Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett," Mooney said. "Not only does the map target one individual, but it also features not one or two but eight districts that look patently ridiculous."
"County boundaries and communities of interest were not given their due regard in this map. As a result, this map further violates minority groups who have been traditionally underrepresented in the state's congressional delegation," Mooney continued.
"Governor O'Malley has once again failed to live up to the 'One Maryland' talking point he uses during election years. I urge the General Assembly to reject this attempt to carve up and divide both the rural areas of our state and black communities to maximize the Democrats partisan advantage," concluded Mooney.