- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Maryland minorities and Republicans are not likely to be satisfied by the last-minute changes Gov. Parris N. Glendening is making to the redistricting plan he'll present to the General Assembly when it convenes tomorrow.
Both groups have accused Mr. Glendening, and the Democrats who helped him draw a new state legislative map, of putting personal interests above fair representation for the 36 percent of Maryland residents who aren't white and the nearly 30 percent of voters registered as Republicans.
Although minorities have been a reliable, and often crucial, constituency for Democrats in Maryland, their votes haven't netted proportionate representation for blacks, Asians or Hispanics in the General Assembly.
According to the 2000 Census, Maryland's white majority stands at 64 percent, down from 70 percent in 1990. But 81 percent of state senators and 78 percent of state delegates are white.
Republicans hold 25 percent of the seats in the House and 28 percent of the seats in the Senate.
Neither group expects much relief under the Democrats' redistricting plan.
Although Mr. Glendening's staff says he is considering complaints raised at a hearing Dec. 21 about splitting up some constituencies, final tweaks are likely to be minor, according to Democratic and Republican leaders.
One change the governor is expected to make would increase chances for two of three black west Baltimore delegates to keep their seats in a Democratic primary that was expected to pit them against each other for one seat.
But that modification would do little to help Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV of Baltimore, who is black and the scion of a family of national and state civil rights leaders. Under the new plan, he would face a Democratic primary fight next fall against Sen. George W. Della Jr., who is white and the son of a former Senate president.
Mr. Mitchell is expected to announce today whether he will leave the Democratic Party in protest. But Mr. Mitchell's spokesman said Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Rogers will make a "last-ditch" plea for him to remain a Democrat at a 10:30 a.m. meeting in Annapolis. The senator won't make a statement until afterward.
Maryland Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele who is black and has been aggressive in advocating for greater minority representation in the state legislature said he believes Mr. Mitchell will take his time and see what the governor offers.
"But I'm very confident that, at the end, he will join us," Mr. Steele said yesterday.
If he does, he would become the first black Republican serving in Maryland's General Assembly since the late Aris T. Allen of Anne Arundel became a senator in 1978.
Mr. Steele said black leaders in the state have been too complacent and that a move by Mr. Mitchell could help minority voters see that they've been taken for granted by Democrats, even in "liberal" suburbs.
"In Montgomery County, 40 percent of the population is minority, and they drew not one minority district," Mr. Steele said.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said it would have been difficult to create a minority district in Montgomery because minorities are not concentrated there. And Mr. Miller said Montgomery activists asked that districts be kept within the county.
Republicans said such requests didn't stop Democratic leaders from crossing other county lines.
Yesterday, Republican Delegates Janet Greenip, David G. Boschert and Robert C. Baldwin sent the governor a letter telling him they had been deluged with complaints from Crofton residents who said they will be disenfranchised by being moved to a district dominated by Prince George's voters.
Unless the lines are changed "an awful lot of people will be voting in Anne Arundel delegation meetings who would not even live in Anne Arundel County," Mrs. Greenip said.


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