Over the rivers and through the woods, two dozen runners and bikers will start a 3-day super marathon Friday morning to traverse the 225-mile perimeter of Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, the second most gerrymandered seat in the country.
The “gerrymander meander” is organized by Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and the Annapolis section of the National Council of Jewish Women to encourage Maryland to reform its highly partisan process of congressional redistricting.
Maryland is still the undisputed U.S. champion when it comes to drawing sprawling, weirdly shaped congressional districts, according to a soon-to-be-released national study. Maryland has the least compact congressional districts in the nation, based on four mathematical tools for compactness, Azavea, a geographic information services firm in Philadelphia, plans to report in a white paper.
Republicans and minority groups upset with new lines drawn for congressional districts are starting a petition drive to put the maps on the ballot in November. Newt Gingrich visits Annapolis. The Senate rejects a study for a third bay bridge.
Since the new district maps to elect members of Congress and the legislature have sparked anger and lawsuits, many throughout the state have questioned the way that the lines are drawn, especially after the legislative redistricting plan quietly became law without hearings in the General Assembly. Several overhaul plans have been proposed, but none are likely to pass.
Sen. James Brochin has proposed a law to reduce partisanship in future redistricting decisions by creating a Temporary Redistricting Commission in the year following a U.S. Census. Brochin, a Towson Democrat, believes his 42nd District in Baltimore County was redrawn into “ultra-Republican” areas — as punishment for regularly voting with the Republican minority on fiscal issues.
Racial politics and concerns about community cohesion dominated a three-hour hearing Thursday as scores of people from across Maryland came to Annapolis to condemn, offer suggestions and even praise the new legislative district map drawn by Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Redistricting Advisory Committee.
The two top Democrats in the General Assembly are pretty happy with the legislative district maps they helped draw, safely slicing the pie to protect their super-majorities. Republicans, on the other hand, are not pasting smiley face stickers on the plan submitted Friday evening, which could force some incumbents to run against each other.