Throughout the history of American Politics, there have been countless bold attempts or promises to ensure what every politician yearns for; re-election.
However, few have been more ballsy than the formation of congressional districts by the overwhelmingly democratic Maryland Legislature during the O’Malley administration.
The gerrymandering (redrawing of legislative districts to favor a certain party) involved in creating the new Maryland congressional districts is so audacious that it’s hard to imagine that the legislators that passed it could sleep at night without feeling ashamed of their blatant disregard for their constituents. When the map was first released, Phil Andrews of the Washington Post wrote “District 3…looks like blood spatter from a crime scene”.
Luckily, on August 6, 2015 Gov. Larry Hogan signed Executive Order 01.01.2015.21, forming the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission. Per his campaign pledge, the commission will attempt to curtail partisanship in making the new districts, basing them instead on things like geographic location (what a wild idea?). The commission plans to hold a public hearing in each region of the state to receive citizens ideas about reform, and have also created a website, http://governor.maryland.gov/redistricting-reform/, on which Marylanders can voice their opinion. In early November, they will present their findings along with a recommendation for a constitutional amendment on redistricting.
However, trying to combat the state legislature on the issue promises to be an uphill battle. When Maryland Senate President Mike Miller was asked about the issue, his feelings were clear; “It’s not going to happen.” The reforms would have to pass through, both, the Maryland House and Senate chambers where Democrats hold a supermajority.
In an attempt to cope with this, Gov. Hogan formed the commission with individuals from both sides of the political spectrum. Additionally, Speaker Busch and President Miller were both invited to appoint members.
Here is a list of the legislators on the committee courtesy of a press release from Gov. Hogan’s Office:
“Alexander Williams Jr. (co-chair) is a retired United States district judge, a former elected state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, and has been widely recognized as a prominent civic leader in Maryland and beyond.
Walter Olson (co-chair), a Frederick County resident, is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit research institution, and the author of four books and many other writings on law, government, and public policy.
Dr. Michael J. Goff is president and CEO of the Northeast-Midwest Institute, a nonpartisan research, policy, and education organization. He also serves on the board of directors of Common Cause Maryland, a leading advocate for redistricting reform. He is also adjunct professor of political science at George Washington University.
Christopher B. Summers is founder and president of the Maryland Public Policy Institute, one of Maryland’s leading public-policy think tanks. A native of Baltimore City and veteran of the Armed Forces, Mr. Summers has an extensive background in public policy and economic policy research.
Ashley Oleson is administrator for the League of Women Voters of MD. The League of Women Voters has been a strong voice calling for redistricting reform and educating voters about the issue.
Carol Ramirez is a Georgetown University graduate and 25-year resident of Bethesda, with a wide-ranging background as a small business owner, banker, and volunteer and leader in local community, school, and church organizations.
Tessa Hill-Aston is president of the Baltimore City Branch of the NAACP, where she has built and grown partnerships between local government, businesses, and religious and community leaders. For more than 25 years, Ms. Hill-Aston has been a prominent voice for social change and equality, in the effort to build a better
Though this issue could prove to be a headache in the coming legislative session, it’s one that needs to be resolved without delay. Gov. Hogan along with a good portion of Marylanders are tired of being underrepresented at the national and state level because of unfair constraints placed on them by the previous administration. Though the end result is uncertain, the formation of the Maryland Redistricting Reform Commission is the first step in the right direction, towards taking back Marylanders dignity, and ensuring that our representative democracy is truly, representative.