- The Washington Times - Monday, February 18, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Maryland Sen. Lowell Stoltzfus is hiring an attorney and planning to buy a new home because of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's legislative redistricting proposal.
The Somerset County Republican hopes his attorney can convince a judge that his new senatorial district, which would meander through five counties from Smith Island northward into Caroline County, is unconstitutional and should be redrawn. He says he could drive to North Carolina as quickly as he could get from his home to the northern end of the district.
If his planned lawsuit fails, Mr. Stoltzfus says, he will move to Salisbury so he can run in his old district. The senator said the Democratic governor has drawn the new boundary lines on the lower Eastern Shore so that Mr. Stoltzfus' home is a few hundred yards outside the area he has represented since 1992.
Mr. Stoltzfus may be the only person planning to move because of legislative redistricting, but he isn't alone in making plans to challenge the new districts in court once Mr. Glendening's plan becomes law Friday.
At least three organizations, including the Maryland Republican Party, are preparing for a court battle, as are Democratic lawmakers from southeastern Baltimore County.
The Glendening plan would divide Sen. Norman Stone's Baltimore County constituents among four legislative districts. Mr. Stone said he and Democratic House members from his area will bring a lawsuit to challenge the governor's decision on "just about everything in the Constitution."
That includes the fact that a few Dundalk-area precincts have been lumped in with a district located mostly in Anne Arundel County. "The precincts I live in are separated from the rest of the district by the Patapsco River, and there's not even a bridge to drive across," Mr. Stone said.
Other lawsuits will target the plan on grounds such as dilution of minority voting strength, lack of compactness and contiguity, and splitting communities without good cause.
The new districts will be used to elect 47 state senators and 141 delegates in elections this year and in 2006 and 2010.
Mr. Glendening's plan will take effect unless the legislature adopts a different plan, and chances that will happen appear slim.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said it was inevitable that people unhappy with the new districts would go to court to try to overturn them, but he said he is "very, very confident they will fail."
Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, also says he has no doubts that his proposal is fair and will be upheld if challenged in federal court.
But opponents say the plan developed by Mr. Glendening and top Democratic leaders is so flawed it cannot withstand legal scrutiny.
"On its face, both state and federal constitutional requirements have been undermined for compactness, contiguity, respecting municipal boundaries as well as county lines," said Michael Steele, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
He also said the plan illegally concentrates black voters in districts in the Baltimore and Washington suburban areas to protect white incumbent senators and delegates.
"To compact African-Americans or Hispanics or other minorities … to minimize or decrease their political impact raises a huge red flag," Mr. Steele said.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Coalition of Concerned Christian Black Men of Prince George's County both plan to file suit against the plan.
The Prince George's group will focus on three Senate districts it believes are drawn to protect three white Democratic incumbents at the expense of black voters.
Jimmy Bell, a Prince George's County lawyer representing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, wouldn't disclose the grounds for his proposed lawsuit because he did not want to tip his hand before the papers were filed.
Most incumbent lawmakers, regardless of party or race, are satisfied with the plan because their districts are left largely intact and they have a good chance of being re-elected.
Mr. Stone and Delegates John Arnick and Joseph Minnick believe, however, that they and their constituents in southeastern Baltimore County were unfairly treated by the governor.
Mr. Stone said many of his constituents fear they would lose their voice in Annapolis because the area was carved into four districts.
John Hwang, owner of a car wash and electronics store and one of Mr. Stone's constituents, came last week from Baltimore for the rally to demonstrate his dismay at what was done to the Dundalk area.
"People ask why are they doing this? People are saying this is not right," Mr. Hwang said. "This is not good for the area I live in."
Mr. Stoltzfus recently moved into a new riverfront home and is reluctant to give it up, even on a part-time basis, to move to Salisbury so he can continue to represent the Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester constituents who have twice elected him to the Senate.
Even worse, he said, is the fact that the plan splits the Lower Shore into two districts, breaking up communities with common interests that are working together to solve common problems.
"The Lower Shore has always been the Lower Shore," he said.

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