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Commission appointed by Maryland Gov. Hogan proposes new political district maps

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s redistricting commission has proposed a new set of maps for electing state and federal lawmakers going forward.

The governor’s redistricting group, which has evenly divided membership among Republicans, Democrats and independents, is seeking public comment on the maps, with an online hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

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Hogan, a Republican, has pledged to support the maps drawn by the commission. But Maryland’s General Assembly — led and dominated by Democrats — has the final say over the new district lines, which must be redrawn after every national Census.

The General Assembly, meanwhile, has had its own bipartisan group of lawmakers holding meetings to gather input on how to draw the new districts.

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Drawing new district lines is a key element of a power play between political parties, with each party trying to gain advantage by drawing districts in their favor.

The maps drawn by the governor’s commission appear to give Republicans a better shot of winning seats in Congress.

The website FiveThirtyEight analyzed the commission’s maps and said it’s likely that the state would elect six Democrats and two Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives if the proposed maps were adopted — a shift from the current seven Democrats and just one Republican who serve in the U.S. House.

Maryland is considered to have some of the most partisan, or gerrymandered, Congressional districts in the nation. During a legal battle following the last round of redistricting, a federal judge memorably described the state’s 3rd Congressional District as “reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

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The governor’s commission, known as the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, will host an online public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Residents can sign up to speak in advance or send comments to redistricting.commission@maryland.gov.

The General Assembly’s redistricting group, known as the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, has several more public hearings scheduled through October and November.

The General Assembly is tentatively planning to hold a special session in December to pass new Congressional maps, followed by new General Assembly maps during their next regular session in January.

Baltimore Sun reporter Bryn Stole contributed to this article.

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