Maybe you’ve seen this political postcard around town — I find myself wading through piles of it all the time. It’s paid for by “Maryland First NOW-Vote Yes on 7, Inc.,” a group that has focused most of its efforts selling expanded gambling to Maryland voters but apparently supports affirming all major veto referendums on the ballot this year. It includes the most outlandish double-speak I’ve seen anywhere this entire election cycle.
It was the same Republican petition machine responsible for referring the Dream Act and Civil Marriage Protection Act (which uses the vocabulary of the opposition but would legalize same-sex marriage) that put Maryland’s redrawn congressional districts — a nationally recognized gerrymander — on the ballot. But Montgomery County Democrats recently added their voices to the dissent, calling the new districts — which disenfranchise Republican and minority voters — “atrocious.”
Everyone makes such a big deal about voting, but try it twice in the same election and, man, they will throw a fit! Just ask Wendy Rosen. She was the Democratic challenger opposing Republican Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, until she had to withdraw from the race Monday after she couldn’t “remember” whether she had ever voted twice in the same election.
While it seems nothing much is happening with Maryland’s embarrassing Congressional gerrymander, two Baltimore County senators are challenging the state’s less-hyped legislative one. Democratic Sens. Delores Kelley and James Brochin are so dissatisfied with their new districts that they’ve taken the issue to the Court of Appeals, asking that the whole map be invalidated.
Some of Kelley’s Baltimore County district has been tacked onto a district otherwise representing only Baltimore City, while Brochin’s new district has become “heavily Republican.”
Assistant Attorney General Dan Friedman has responded to the suit, saying, “The plan is constitutionally and legally sufficient, and we look forward to defending it.” But he’s probably just breathing a sigh of relief that he’s not being asked to defend the Congressional map.
Why have we heard a bunch about Congressional redistricting but almost nothing about the legislative redistricting? iSolon.org’s Jim Snider explained it well on Patch.com:
“A primary difference between the Congressional and legislative gerrymanders is that the former was primarily a partisan gerrymander whereas the latter was primarily a pro-incumbent gerrymander. The different political goals of the Congressional and legislative gerrymanders can largely be explained because if you already have a safe partisan majority, as was the case with the Democratic Party at the Maryland but not national levels of government, protecting incumbents becomes the higher priority.”
The point is, in the Congressional redistricting Republicans were the big losers. And they raised a stink. In the legislative redistricting, the loser was, in Snider’s words, “the Maryland citizenry.”
So it’s interesting that only two of our state senators seem to much care about the whole thing.
Though Delaney is going up against 10-term incumbent Roscoe Bartlett, the race is really his to lose, as the district has been redrawn specifically to disenfranchise Republican voters. If Bartlett somehow manages to win, it’ll really say more about Maryland Dems’ incompetence in rigging elections than anything else. If Delaney wins, Maryland’s representation in Congress won’t so much go from “red to blue” as “blue to navy blue.”
This is my favorite moment in partisan politics: right after the primary when two politicians, who just yesterday we’re warning voters of the doomsday scenario that would be brought about by the other’s nomination, backpedal as quickly and completely as they can to present a unified front in the general election. And in the case of the Democratic primary in Maryland’s sixth Congressional district, it’s particularly satisfying.
The nominee, John Delaney, was gerrymandered out of the district by the party establishment in order to clear a path to the nomination for Rob Garagiola (the official choice to unseat 10-term Republican U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett), but ran anyway. And his status as literally “an outsider” propelled him to a decisive victory (well, that and outspending Garagiola three to one). By now, most of the top party members have scraped off their Garagiola bumper stickers and come out in full support of insurgent Delaney as he challenges Bartlett to represent the New, Improved Sixth District — now with more registered Democrats!
I know I harp on gerrymandering alot in my posts here, but that’s only because it is one of the most overt and defiant displays of political corruption available — I can’t understand how our lawmakers can claim to be representing the people as they are blatantly manipulating the system to benefit their party. And with the sixth district, it couldn’t be more offensive if Dems redrew it in the shape of the middle finger, what with the obvious dilution of Maryland’s already embattled conservative voters, and the wonky border that zig and zag to avoid potential candidates’ homes, in the hopes they wouldn’t run.
Don’t get me wrong, more Republicans in the House of Representatives is not something that makes me feel particularly safe, but corruption is corruption.