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O’Malley to revise Maryland redistricting map

To offer final version Monday

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will likely make changes to a proposed congressional redistricting map before submitting it to the General Assembly on Monday, following criticism from minority leaders and members of his own Democratic Party.

O'Malley spokeswoman Takirra Winfield said Wednesday the governor will work over the weekend to revise the map before submitting it Monday to Assembly lawmakers returning to Annapolis for a special session on redistricting.

The governor suggested earlier this month, after his advisory panel released the map, that he would make minor changes. But it's unclear whether the outcry Tuesday from Maryland Democratic lawmakers about the map, based on 2010 census results, will result in more substantial changes.

After months of closed-door wrangling and frustration, Rep. Donna F. Edwards, a Democrat, went public Tuesday with her concerns, primarily that Montgomery and Prince George's counties had increases in minority voters, but minorities would lose their voting power because the map carves up their districts to help Democrats win another House seat.

The advisory panel — which included Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Prince George's Democrat, and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat — would drastically change Miss Edwards' predominantly black 4th District, which now includes sections of Prince George's and Montgomery counties, by replacing Montgomery with Anne Arundel County.

The map also puts Democratic voters from western Montgomery County into GOP Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett's largely conservative 6th District, giving state Democrats a serious shot at winning a seventh congressional seat in next year's elections. They now hold a 6-2 advantage.

Miss Edwards said a state with a Democratic governor and Democratic-controlled Assembly should not be making a map that dilutes the minority vote.

"I cannot support this plan in its current form given that minority representation interests appear to have been sacrificed for these political interests," Miss Edwards said.

Many of Montgomery County's Democratic lawmakers, including Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez, held a press conference Tuesday to voice their concerns about the map, saying it would also diminish the influence of the county's Hispanic population.

The state's NAACP chapter and the Black Legislative Caucus have voiced their concerns since this summer.

Despite the criticism, the map still maintains Maryland's two minority voting districts, consistent with court-ordered rules.

Mr. O'Malley said Wednesday: "I look forward to working with [Mr. Miller], [Mr. Busch] and with the members of the General Assembly as we come together and work on passing legislation ensuring every citizen is fairly and accurately represented."

State Republicans have also criticized the map as a partisan gambit designed to expand Democratic influence at the expense of fair representation for Republicans and minorities.

"There are several alternative plans that offer compact, contiguous districts and provide equitable representation to everyone," state House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell, Calvert Republican, said Wednesday.

Sen. Joseph M. Getty, Carroll Republican, and Delegate Michael J. Hough, Frederick Republican, also said this week they will propose alternate congressional maps during the special session.

They say their maps would increase the state's number of predominantly-minority districts from the current two to three without drastically overhauling Mr. Bartlett's 6th District.

Mr. Bartlett said he has proposed a map that would preserve the minority voting districts. However, Miss Edwards has not at least publicly submitted an alternative map.

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