Marc King lives in Germantown, Maryland.
Every 10 years the Constitution of the United States requires that we count all the residents of the country and assign and apportion our state representatives to the United States Congress. In 2020 we had a Federal Census, and now it is time to consider how we will construct our Congressional Districts, based on the Census.
The Maryland State Constitution makes it clear how this process will be carried out for both the Federal and State seats: Maryland’s congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.
Now for the state lines the process is a bit different:
So, we can see that the lines can be drawn by the state legislature or the Governor. If the Governor’s proposal is not acted upon by the legislature 45 days after he submits, it becomes law; in the case of Maryland’s conservatives and Republicans, a legislative success may very well be celebrated by way of a “NEW” Republican seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But alas and alack, for sure that will not be the case. The Socialist Democrats in the Maryland State Legislature hold a “super majority” in both Chambers, and they are the ones who will ultimately determine where the lines will be drawn. It is at this point that we introduce the word gerrymander! You might have heard that Maryland is one of the most gerrymandered states in the union.
ger·ry·man·der /ˈjerēˌmandər/verb gerund or present participle:
gerrymandering… manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class. Achieve (a result) by manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency.
“A total freedom to gerrymander the results they want”(Definitions from Oxford Languages)
Now that there is a clear understanding of the issue, lets see what Governor Hogan is planning to do when the matter comes up for action. Just today the Governor sent an email to his constituents:
So, the Governor plans to appoint a nonpartisan citizens commission that will “finally remove the politics and politicians from the redistricting process.”
And to do this he needs you, the taxpayer, to just pay some more. However, it is not clear where the donations will be going. If the State is out of money, then they cannot support the expense of a Nonpartisan Commission to undertake this task. If, on the other hand the money is available, why the request for donations?
Could it be that the Governor is putting the money in a fund that he plans to use for his Presidential run in 2024? It’s not really clear where the money is going and for what it will be used.
Furthermore, it seems the Governor has failed to mention that he did exactly the same thing after his reelection to a second term in 2018 – when he appointed a nonpartisan commission to redraw the horribly gerrymandered lines of the State, raising hope that it would work out for Republican this time. And the Commission did an excellent job of meeting the requirements of the State Constitution:
“SEC. 4. Each legislative district shall consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and of substantially equal population. Due regard shall be given to natural boundaries and the boundaries of political subdivisions…”
It looked like the 6th Congressional District, which had been gerrymandered in such a way that a long-standing Republican member of the Maryland Delegation in Congress (Rosco Bartlett) lost his seat in 2010, might again have the ability to elect a Republican to the House of Representatives. However, when the Commissioner tasked with the job was asked in a public forum if his recommendations could be approved by the Governor and turned into law he replied: “No. The state legislature is the final word.”
So, it never came to pass that Governor Hogan achieved what he is telling us all once again he can do – if we just send him money to do it.
That brings us to 2021 and the pending redistricting effort that will soon be undertaken by the Legislature and the Governor.
We have seen what the State Constitution requires, we know that the Socialist Democrats have a super majority in the State Legislature, and we are aware the current gerrymandered lines strongly favor their political position at both the Federal and State levels. We can certainly expect some change from all of this, but I submit it will not be the change we would like to see.
I believe that there will be a concerted effort on the part of the Legislature to gerrymander the last remaining Republican for the State of Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives, Representative Andy Harris of the 1st Congressional District. The Socialist Democrats have tried this before and this will be their next best opportunity to try it again.
Conservatives and Republicans have a tough row to hoe in the State of Maryland. What we do not need is political theater from our Governor on redistricting: people need to know and understand the odds of passing a plan that would make life more representative for them – giving them a voice in their government. But the odds are stacked heavily against us and the Governor knows it. It is often said that if you want to know what is going on in politics just follow the money. And with that the question must be asked:
What Shell Game is Governor Hogan Playing Now?
References & Notes:
- Main image credit: https://s19499.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/facebook-gov-larry-hogan-dec-17-2020-news-briefing.jpg
- In the 2010 cycle, the legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 1) on Oct. 20, 2011, which was signed by the Governor the same day. A referendum campaign placed the plan on the ballot; that referendum was defeated, and the maps were approved, in the Nov. 2012 elections. For state legislative districts, on Jan. 11, 2012, the Governor released state Senate (SJR 1) and state House (HJR 1) plans; without legislative action in the next 45 days, the Governor’s proposal became law on Feb. 24, 2012.
- Boundaries of Maryland’s congressional election districts are defined by legislation enacted by the General Assembly. These boundaries have changed over time, and they continue to change. Redistricting enacted by the General Assembly in 2011 changed the congressional election districts prior to the General Election of November 6, 2012, and has applied to general elections thereafter. After each federal census, Congress determines the number of representatives for each state based on population (U.S. Constitution, Art. 1, sec. 2). Following the 2010 federal census, Maryland retained eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.