Bartlett falls victim to aggressive Democratic gerrymander strategy

  • Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett gets his "Bartlett for Congress" sticker put on him by his chief of staff on Election Day outside of Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. Bartlett, who is in a tight race against Democrat John Delaney, is visiting every county in his district on Election Day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett gets his "Bartlett for Congress" sticker put on him by his chief of staff on Election Day outside of Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. Bartlett, who is in a tight race against Democrat John Delaney, is visiting every county in his district on Election Day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Voters wait in line on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Voters wait in line on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • While one man waits for an election official to bring him to an available voting machine, other voters cast their ballots at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md. on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)While one man waits for an election official to bring him to an available voting machine, other voters cast their ballots at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md. on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • John Delaney, who is hoping to oust Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the state's sixth district, talks to a 7th-grade civics class about redistricting outside of Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. The school's civics teacher brought each of his classes over to the polling place to learn more about the electoral process. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)John Delaney, who is hoping to oust Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the state's sixth district, talks to a 7th-grade civics class about redistricting outside of Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. The school's civics teacher brought each of his classes over to the polling place to learn more about the electoral process. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Garrett County residents vote at Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. The heavily Republican district has roughly 1,577 registered voters. They had about 100 by 8 a.m. and expected good turnout throughout the day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Garrett County residents vote at Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. The heavily Republican district has roughly 1,577 registered voters. They had about 100 by 8 a.m. and expected good turnout throughout the day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • A voter casts his ballot on Election Day at Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)A voter casts his ballot on Election Day at Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • John Delaney (center), who is hoping to oust Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in Maryland's sixth district, shakes hands with voters on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)John Delaney (center), who is hoping to oust Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in Maryland's sixth district, shakes hands with voters on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican who represents the state's sixth Congressional district, waves to voters with Debbie Burrell, his chief of staff, outside of Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md. on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. Bartlett, who is in a tight race against Democrat John Delaney, is visiting every county in his district on Election Day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican who represents the state's sixth Congressional district, waves to voters with Debbie Burrell, his chief of staff, outside of Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md. on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. Bartlett, who is in a tight race against Democrat John Delaney, is visiting every county in his district on Election Day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Russell Broadwater (right) and other voters cast their ballots on Election Day at Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. The heavily Republican district has about 1,577 registered voters and had 100 people by 8 a.m. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Russell Broadwater (right) and other voters cast their ballots on Election Day at Grantsville Elementary School in Grantsville, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. The heavily Republican district has about 1,577 registered voters and had 100 people by 8 a.m. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, shakes hands with Grantsville, Md., Mayor Paul Edwards outside of Grantsville Elementary School on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. Bartlett, who is in a tight race against Democrat John Delaney, is visiting every county in his district on Election Day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, shakes hands with Grantsville, Md., Mayor Paul Edwards outside of Grantsville Elementary School on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012. Bartlett, who is in a tight race against Democrat John Delaney, is visiting every county in his district on Election Day. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Jerry Garson (left) of the Ben Cardin campaign team, goes over data on Election Day with Maryland U.S. Congress hopeful John Delaney outside of Winston Churchill High School on Nov. 6, 2012. Delaney is hoping to oust Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett in the sixth district. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Jerry Garson (left) of the Ben Cardin campaign team, goes over data on Election Day with Maryland U.S. Congress hopeful John Delaney outside of Winston Churchill High School on Nov. 6, 2012. Delaney is hoping to oust Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett in the sixth district. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Voters waiting to cast ballots on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., are seen through a cafeteria door on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Voters waiting to cast ballots on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., are seen through a cafeteria door on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
  • Elections operation judge Rosario Khan hands out "I voted" stickers on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)Elections operation judge Rosario Khan hands out "I voted" stickers on Election Day at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., on Nov. 6, 2012. (Barbara L. Salisbury/The Washington Times)
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Todd Eberly, director of public policy studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said Republicans have mostly sought to protect their existing seats because many sense they have reached their “high-water mark” after picking up 63 seats in the 2010 midterm elections.

He said the GOP’s conservative approach was a smart political move that could put the party in place to hold a majority over the next decade.

“It’s been drawn to such an extent that you’re not likely to see a lot of change,” Mr. Eberly said, adding that he considers 380 of 435 seats to be safely in favor of one party or the other. “If that number doesn’t make it clear, I don’t think anything would.”

Many activists have called for nonpartisan or bipartisan commissions to handle redistricting, and while a few states have obliged, the approach has not cured bickering between parties.

In Arizona, the state’s nonpartisan Independent Redistricting Commission drew a map that state Republicans blasted as biased. The party unsuccessfully sued to have the map withdrawn and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer tried to fire the commission’s chairman, only to have the move blocked by the state Supreme Court.

In California, a bipartisan citizens’ commission approved a map that was expected to make more of the state’s 53 districts competitive, but which many analysts predicted would give Democrats a chance of gaining a couple of seats.

Mr. Eberly acknowledged that nonpolitical commissions are not a cure-all, but he said he thinks that such an approach combined with laws designed to make districts more compact would be a step forward for most states.

“No matter what you do to try and shield out politics, things can happen,” he said. “But anything along those steps makes it more difficult.”

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