2021 | Government

In new proposed congressional maps, not many changes to Montgomery County

8th District could turn less Democratic under legislative commission's plans

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A commission working for Maryland’s Democratic-majority General Assembly released four “conceptual maps” of new congressional maps on Tuesday.

In all four proposals by the Maryland Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, the boundaries in Montgomery County are largely intact.

Almost all of the county would continue to be in the 8th District, now represented by U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, or the 6th District, now represented by U.S. Rep. David Trone. Both are Democrats.

But, depending on what the final political map looks like, Raskin could lose some of his upcounty Democratic voters. Two of the four proposals would cut off some of Frederick County from Raskin’s district and give the 8th District a much greater part of more conservative Carroll County.

Raskin’s press secretary, Jacob Wilson, said the congressman is not currently commenting on the redistricting process.

Those Carroll County voters are now in the 1st District, represented by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican.

Under one of the proposed maps, the 1st District would lose Republican-leaning Carroll and Harford counties and pick up a large area of Democratic-leaning Anne Arundel County.

The state’s political lines must be redrawn to comply with the U.S. Census Bureau’s decennial recount of population. The process must take into consideration the racial and ethnic makeups of a political jurisdiction to avoid disenfranchising minorities.

The General Assembly’s Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission will finalize a new congressional district map in the next few weeks.

Commission Chairman Karl Aro said in a statement that the panel released the maps so Maryland residents can better weigh in with their comments and ideas. Public hearings, which were held before the release of the maps, will continue next week.

“These Congressional map concepts below reflect much of the specific testimony we’ve heard, and to the extent practicable, keep Marylanders in their existing districts,” Aro said in the statement. “Portions of these districts have remained intact for at least 30 years ….”

A panel appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan sent a competing map to the state legislature last week after making wholesale changes to the state’s political map.

That new map proposes adding a substantial number of Republican voters to Trone’s district and shifting an eastern part of Montgomery County, including Raskin’s hometown and political stronghold of Takoma Park, into the 4th District.

Harris wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat that he favors the map drawn up by the governor’s panel. a plan that was ignored by the Democrats in the assembly who worked on their own redistricting proposals.

Harris wrote that the state legislature commission’s proposed maps would likely continue to include a Republican-majority district. Only one of the four proposals from the commission would make his Eastern Shore-based district competitive — balanced enough to give either party a chance to win.

“Unfortunately, the maps proposed by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Committee are still quite gerrymandered, although not quite as much as the current districts,” Harris wrote in an e-mail. “Three of the four proposed maps would likely result in a 7-1 (Democratic majority) delegation and the remaining map would be competitive in at least one district.”

Harris also wrote that the GOP sweep in Virginia last week “made it clear that the Democrat-controlled (legislative redistricting commission) may have been unwilling to risk attempting an 8-0 map.” That would have eliminated any chance of a Republican representing a Maryland congressional district.

The General Assembly will hold a special session beginning on Dec. 6 to finalize a new congressional map.

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Below are four maps proposed by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission.