2021 | Politics

Under proposed congressional map, some of Montgomery County moves to 4th District

Hogan calls legislative commission’s proposed map ‘an abomination’

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FROM DARWINEK/CREATIVE COMMONS

This story was updated on Nov. 29, 2021, to add an image of the final proposed map.

State legislators tasked with drawing up the new boundaries of congressional districts in Maryland picked a final proposed map late Tuesday that would move the eastern part of Montgomery County to the Black-majority 4th District.

That map, which would reconfigure all of Maryland’s congressional district boundaries, was slammed by Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican at odds with the Democrat-controlled state legislature over redistricting.

“These gerrymandered maps drawn in secret by the politicians are an absolute abomination,” Hogan posted on Twitter on Wednesday. “It was hard to imagine they could do worse than the worst-in-the-nation designation of the current maps, but they have.”

The Maryland General Assembly will convene on Dec. 6 for a special session to consider new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts. A legislative commission has been working on proposals, as has a separate commission created by Hogan.

The biggest change to Montgomery County in the legislative commission’s final proposal is with a section of the eastern part of county, now represented by U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes in the 3rd District.

That area would move to the 4th District, which is now represented by Democrat Anthony Brown. Instead of seeking re-election, Brown is running for state attorney general.

While District 3 is a majority white district, District 4 is a majority Black district.

Another change to Montgomery County’s representation under the map is in the 8th District, currently represented U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin.

The 8th District would lose some from Montgomery County and gain more from Carroll County instead. That would make the 8th District “slightly more competitive,” said state Del. Eric Luedtke, a member of the seven-member Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission assigned to draw up new political maps in the state.

“(Raskin’s district) keeps almost all of Montgomery County inside the Beltway, except for a small portion of Potomac,” Luedtke (D-Burtonsville) said in an interview.

Meanwhile, the 6th District, now represented by U.S. Rep. David Trone, would pick up more of Montgomery County outside the Beltway and more of Frederick County.

The 6th District was made larger in the legislative commission’s proposed map because population growth in Western Maryland was much slower than in other parts of the state.

The redistricting process was touched off by the results of the 2020 U.S. census, which determined that there have been substantial demographic changes in the state over the past decade.

Maryland’s population grew by about 7 percent since 2010 — to  6,177,224 in the 2020 Census — and the state will keep its eight congressional districts. But the boundaries of those districts needed to be adjusted to account for population shifts, growth and increased diversity in the state.

The legislative redistricting panel issued four “conceptual maps” earlier this month. On Tuesday evening, it voted 4-2 to approve one that was very similar to one labeled “No. 2.”

The chairman of the panel, Karl Aro, recused himself from the vote. The two dissenting votes came from the Republican members of the panel, Sen. Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel County and Del. Jason Buckel of Allegany County.

They said the redrawn lines, based on the map of the state’s current congressional districts, continued to be “gerrymandered.”

While Aro said the redistricting panel sought “continuity” and to keep as many people as possible in their current congressional districts, Simonaire questioned that process, asking, “Why do we start with the most gerrymandered map in the United States?”

This map is a legislative commission’s final recommendation for congressional boundaries in Maryland.

The panel’s map would keep seven of the state’s congressional districts safe for Democrats and make the 1st District — now represented by Republican Rep. Andy Harris and considered a GOP stronghold — more competitive because it would add a portion of Anne Arundel County to that Eastern Shore-based district.

Luedtke, the House Majority leader, said “it’s near certain” the General Assembly will approve the map voted out by the legislature’s redistricting committee in next month’s special session.

The Republican members of the redistricting panel said they favored an effort by a panel appointed by Hogan that drew a map that made two of the state’s eight congressional districts winnable for Republicans.

The state legislature, however, has ignored the panel’s efforts, even though Hogan has threatened to veto any other map. The General Assembly has Democratic majorities in the House and Senate that can override Hogan’s veto.

Meanwhile, Aro said “the next step” for the legislature’s redistricting panel is to draw up new state Senate and state delegate districts. That new map will be considered in the regular session of the General Assembly that begins in January.