Letter: No defense of partisan gerrymandering

The other day, I went to the governor's press conference about gerrymandering in Maryland. Gerrymandering is wrong, no matter who is doing it. Maryland has some of the worst gerrymandering in the whole country, and everybody knows it. Gov. Hogan has proposed — yet again — that a non-partisan redistricting commission be empowered to re-draw congressional district and legislative district maps after each census. I was happy to co-sponsor this bill. The fact that former Gov. Martin O'Malley re-drew the maps specifically to defeat Roscoe Bartlett, and hence to disenfranchise Republicans, is awful. He admitted as much on the record during a deposition in a case that has now been taken up by the Supreme Court of the United States. Just look at Maryland's election map, and even Democrats should be embarrassed. Of course, that hasn't stopped partisan-hack Attorney General Brian Frosh from defending the map.

In northern Carroll County, I find myself in Andy Harris' congressional district. This monstrosity runs from Keymar to Ocean City. You have to have a helicopter to cover this district. It was specifically tailored to cram as many Republicans as possible to reduce Maryland's congressional representation from two Republicans down to one. In the sixth district, they cobbled together a mess that runs from liberal Potomac in Montgomery Count, all the way to Garrett County. And then there is the crazy third district, which many have called the broken-winged pterodactyl because of the way it was gerrymandered. The legislative districts aren't much better. It's readily apparent that many of those were drawn for the purpose of protecting powerful incumbents.

Redistricting should be done fairly and without partisan politics. At the governor's press conference, he was supported by folks from a cross-section of the populace — including the president of the Baltimore NAACP and the League of Women voters. As is so often the case, Democrat leadership is on the wrong side of the people on this issue. It's time they did the right thing instead of the politically expedient thing, and back the governor's proposal for fair elections.

Haven Shoemaker


The writer is a Republican representing District 5 in the House of Delegates seeking re-election.

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