ANNAPOLIS, Md.–Governor Martin O’Malley’s redistricting map passed the House of Delegates yesterday with a 91-46 vote–mostly along party lines.
O’Malley’s map was adamantly opposed by some minority interest groups with hopes of establishing a third minority-majority district in Maryland.
“A few TEEs have to be crossed in the Senate tomorrow, but the bill is law,” said Delegate Jay Jacobs (R36-Caroline, Cecil, Kent & Queen Anne’s). “The map is pure partisan gerrymandering.”
GOP lawmakers called the map a partisan castration of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD6) and an attack on rural Maryland.
The Eastern Shore delegation supported an alternative Maryland GOP map proposed by House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell (R29-Calvert), and endorsed by Todd Eberly, professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary’s College. The GOP map saves the historically conservative 6th District and creates a third majority-minority district proposed by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD4).
Over the last three days, GOP lawmakers were outspoken in their sympathy for Edwards, and other minority interests, because O’Malley’s plan moves minorities from Prince George’s and Montgomery into the 3rd, 6th, and 8th districts, which are predominantly white. GOP lawmakers said that O’Malley missed out an opportunity to create a third minority-majority district on new Census data that shows Maryland’s minority population now at 47 percent.
Edwards argued in Annapolis on Monday that diluting minorities into predominantly white districts violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Act bans the practice of “fracturing” minority groups into majority white districts–where the odds of electing a minority candidate would be slim.
GOP Lawmakers have also accused O’Malley of political gerrymandering in his “blatant attempt to turn the historically red 6th District, blue.” O’Malley’s map attacks the conservative western Maryland stronghold by amputating conservative areas of Frederick and Carroll County and pushing parts of liberal Montgomery County north into Bartlett’s base. GOP lawmakers say the map is engineered to lump rural Maryland in with the Washington suburbs and divide communities of common interest.
“The Governor’s map is most certainly headed for the courts,” Jacobs said.
Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee, a civil rights group established to oppose the O’Malley plan, has joined with the Maryland GOP to fight the law in federal court. Fannie Lou said they would also file a grievance with the US Department of Justice.
Tiffany Alston and Aisha Braveboy of Prince George’s County, and Alfred Carr, Ana Gutierrez, and Luiz Simmons of Montgomery County were the five Democrats to vote against the redistricting plan.