What’s the problem with gerrymandering? Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous thinks it’s great. He wants no Maryland Republicans in Congress (“Ben Jealous has promised a lot of things. We didn’t expect gerrymandering to be one of them,” Sept. 28).
But gerrymandering causes the decline of healthy debate and the effective elimination of an incumbent’s need to represent the interests of his constituents. A case in point is Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democratic congressman for 22 years. He represents western Baltimore City, Howard County and central Baltimore County. Baltimore is the heart of his district. The gerrymandered — and therefore neutered portions of the district — are outside the city center. These constituents can be safely ignored.
I should know. This year, I am the GOP nominee facing Mr. Cummings in November. I am running to win and consider myself eminently qualified to serve in Congress. I have been an attorney for four decades with extensive experience in a variety of areas including criminal and elder law. I have asked Mr. Cummings to debate me. He has ignored the challenge. Why should he bother? Gerrymandering of the district has given him a huge advantage. He’s sure to win anyway — he thinks.
But I think his constituents should be able to learn about his plans and policy ideas, and they need to hear from others who have different ideas and plans. That’s what democracy is all about. Elijah Cummings has not given his district what it deserves. One example: when he first ran for Congress 22 years ago, Mr. Cummings pledged to help solve Baltimore’s massive education failures. His lack of success is clear from the numbers. The city’s public school students now rank third from the bottom in math and reading proficiency among major cities.
Elijah Cummings is a beneficiary of gerrymandering. His constituents are not.
The writer is the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Maryland’s 7th district.
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