By E. J. PIPKIN
12:00 AM EDT, October 16, 2011
The congressional redistricting map for which Gov. O’Malley is seeking legislative approval ignores standards of continuity and compactness and puts together far-flung communities that do not share common interests or anything else in common. And adding insult to injury, the governor has either forgotten or brazenly ignored Maryland’s ethnic and racial diversity in the process of redistricting.
The map is nothing but a political instrument that seeks to gain the ruling Democrats a Republican congressional seat in Western Maryland and keep the seats of incumbent Democrats safe and sound. Redistricting continues to make a mockery of “one man, one vote.” Redistricting has become and continues to be a vehicle for building partisan power in Congress.
The heavy Republican 6th District used to stretch across the northern border of the state. The new map keeps rural Western Maryland in the district, but dumps one-third of Montgomery County residents (330,000 people) into the 6th District, threatening Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett’s seat and making it possible for a Democrat to win the seat and difficult for a Republican to keep it. Montgomery County is heavily Democratic, liberal, rich, college-educated, and racially and ethnically diverse. By contrast, Garrett County residents are overwhelmingly Republican, conservative, modestly educated and white. Montgomery and Garrett counties could not be further apart. If there is a community of interest between Garrett and Montgomery counties, I wish someone would tell me what it is.
Those who drew the map wanted to dilute both the 1st and 6th districts with Democratic populations to capture the two congressional seats. Although the map drawers possessed awesome agility, they found that task beyond their talents. So, they contented themselves with destroying only the conservative 6th District.
When the special session convenes, I will submit a redistricted map that is geographically, racially and culturally compact, and cohesive.
This map will have rural Maryland represented by three districts.
• The 1st District will be composed of the Eastern Shore, Harford County and portions of Baltimore County.
• The 6th District will include the five Western Maryland counties of Garrett, Alleghany, Washington, Frederick and Carroll, as well as portions of northern Baltimore County.
• The 3rd District will be composed mainly of Anne Arundel, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.
This map’s three majority-minority districts — Districts 4, 5 and 7 — contain African-American populations of 52 percent, 56 percent and 57 percent. Their total minority population represents 74 percent, 68 percent and 64 percent.
• The 4th District is a D.C. Beltway district that hugs the Montgomery and Prince George’s county line. It also has the state’s largest concentration of Hispanics, totaling 21.8 percent of the district’s population.
• The 5th District is a suburban Washington, D.C./I-95 district. It contains all of Charles County, the majority of area within Prince George’s County, the I-95 portion of Howard County and the precincts bordering I-95 within Baltimore County.
• The 7th District is the Baltimore City district. Beyond totally encompassing Baltimore City, it stretches into small portions of both southeast and southwest Baltimore County.
The remaining districts, the 2nd and 8th, are both geographically suburban.
• The 8th District is another D.C. suburb district. The growth of Montgomery County since 2000 means that this entire dongressional district can fall within its boundaries.
• The 2nd District is a suburban Baltimore district. It entails a good portion of the communities around the Baltimore Beltway and all of Howard County not already represented by the 5th District within the map.
If the goal of redistricting is to be fair and accurate representation, the governor’s plan misses by a country mile. My plan meets these goals and fully represents the citizens of Maryland.
E.J. Pipkin is a Republican state senator who represents District 36, which includes Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne's counties.
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