It is far from a done deal, and it is neither a perfect nor permanent solution, but the proposed 6th Congressional District map adopted by Gov. Larry Hogan’s bipartisan redistricting commission should at least give hope to the numerous Carroll countians who believe their vote doesn’t really count in certain races.
The proposed 6th District map pairs Frederick County and roughly half of Carroll County with Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties. Del. Haven Shoemaker was correct in saying that “the bottom half of county has more in common with the other western Maryland counties than with Montgomery County.” Recently, southern Carroll and Frederick have been in the 8th District that also included a heavily populated portion of Montgomery County. Most of that Montgomery portion would remain in the 8th under the proposed plan.
The redistricting commission, which was created after a federal court ruled in November that Maryland Democrats unconstitutionally gerrymandered the 6th Congressional District and ordered that a new map be drawn by March 7, unanimously voted last week to adopt a proposed map for the district. Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh appealed the panel of federal judges’ decision in November. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
For an example of how a redrawn map could give Carroll voters more say in who represents them, consider the 2018 midterm elections. In the District 8 House of Representatives race, 61 percent of Carroll County residents voted for Republican John Walsh. But while Walsh earned the majority of the votes from Carroll and Frederick counties, Raskin easily won reelection thanks to overwhelming support from Montgomery County voters. Theoretically, then, the majority of voters in that half of Carroll County who may have felt as if their vote didn’t count would now feel otherwise if the redistricted map goes through.
Obviously, opinions on the proposed map probably have a great deal to do with whether an “R” or a “D” follows one’s name. But even the Republicans who felt that Frederick and southwestern Carroll were gerrymandered out of relevance in the last few elections don’t think the new map goes far enough.
Del. Susan Krebs, R-Carroll County, said she would’ve liked to see the commission to redraw more districts. State Sen. Michael Hough, R-Frederick and Carroll counties, called it an improvement but noted, “Carroll County is still unnecessarily in two.”
True. It would be ideal if all residents of Carroll were in the same district, as was the case from 1972 through 2011.
“I would’ve liked to see Carroll County stay together in one congressional district like it used to be,” Shoemaker told us. “That’s a little disappointing, but if my half (northern Carroll) stays in the 1st and the other half goes in the 6th, that’s not the worst possible outcome.”
No it isn’t. But even if the Supreme Court ruling does allow the commission’s recommendations to go forward, Gov. Larry Hogan introduces it as emergency legislation during the current Maryland General Assembly session and it makes it through the legislature, this new map likely won’t remain in place for long. Congressional maps are redrawn after every Decennial Census, balancing the population of each district. So it’s quite likely this new map would be around for only the 2020 election.
But even one election with a redrawn District 6 would make the majority of southern Carroll residents happier than they’ve been during than the last few. For those interested, public meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, March 12 in Montgomery County and March 20 in Washington County. The commission has also scheduled a workshop in Annapolis March 22.