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Brian Griffiths: The redistricting maps Maryland deserves | COMMENTARY

Recently, we have seen the initial proposals of the congressional and legislative redistricting maps being worked on by the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission.

My first impressions were very simple: I thought they were very reasonable maps. On the congressional map, I was not enthused about the fact that I would be in the proposed 6th District. But still, both maps checked all the boxes set out by Gov. Larry Hogan as the commission’s charge. The districts were compact. They largely respect county boundaries. They respected natural boundaries. And they kept communities together.

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The congressional map is as clean and compact as you can get. Especially when you compare it to the gerrymandered dumpster fire we currently have. It is the best congressional redistricting map I have ever seen implemented or proposed in my time participating in and observing politics in Maryland. Yet, it probably doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of becoming law.

As I have been writing and talking about for years, the Democrats are going to do everything in their power to make sure nothing like the commission’s proposed district passes. The Democrats’ charge is going to be to make sure that congressional districts are gerrymandered to ensure at least seven of the eight members of Congress from Maryland are Democrats. Since congressional redistricting maps are required to be adopted by the General Assembly, they retain the votes to do so if they can get all Democrats pulling the same rope.

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The commission’s proposed boundaries will create, at minimum, a 6-2 Democratic split. I really think, however, it may be a situation where 5-3 or even 4-4 is possible (although not probable).

The proposed District 1 and District 8 in the commission plan would lean heavily Republican. Districts 2, 4, 5 and 6 would be overwhelmingly Democratic. Proposed Districts 3 and 7 are where the action would be. Though both proposed districts were Biden districts in 2020, both are potentially competitive enough with the right candidate running for Congress and with more credible candidates at the top of the ballot.

The Democrats have no plans whatsoever to allow this level of competitiveness to seep in, a toxic mix of Democratic tradition and the continued insane, hyper focus on national politics. Something that will no doubt be exacerbated by the kangaroo court created by Senate President Bill Ferguson and Speaker Adrienne Jones, masquerading as the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Committee, that will continue the proud Democratic tradition of gerrymandered districts designed to keep establishment power and limit the voices of political, ethnic, and cultural minorities.

Yet, the external factors of this redistricting process are different than in past redistricting cycles. That compact, fair, and justifiable plans have been proposed from the executive branch should make it more difficult for legislative Democrats to railroad through their own plan without tremendous public consequences. There are plenty of independents and Democrats who are as sick of the establishment Democrats redistricting games as there are Republicans and conservatives. There will be push-back. There will be public pressure. Those who vote for something else will do so at their own peril.

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At least quality legislative redistricting maps have a chance of being passed considering that the plan introduced by the governor will become law after 45 days unless the General Assembly passes an alternative plan.

Though they may not be the final maps, the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission should be commended for its quality work and ability to follow the governor’s call for fair and compact districts that respect natural, community, and county boundaries. These are the maps Maryland deserves.

Brian Griffiths is the publisher of The Duckpin, available for free at TheDuckpin.com, and host of The Duckpin Podcast, available on YouTube and wherever podcasts are available. He can be reached via email at brian.griffiths.media@gmail.com, on Twitter @BrianGriffiths, on TikTok @briangriffithsmd, on Instagram @briangriffithsmd, or on Facebook at facebook.com/briangriffithsmd.

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