With its preposterously gerrymandered congressional voting districts, Maryland is an outstanding example of why states need nonpartisan redistricting reform. But the redistricting bill that emerged this year in Annapolis — in equal parts cynical and ludicrous — makes clear that the Democrats who dominate both houses of the General Assembly there remain loath to part with the incumbent-protection racket that enables them to choose their voters and perpetuate their grip on power with scant regard for good governance. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Craig J. Zucker (D-Montgomery), is an Alphonse-and-Gaston arrangement, except that in this case there is not one Gaston but five. It would establish a nonpartisan commission to draft the state’s congressional districts — so far so good — but only if five other Eastern Seaboard states agreed in lockstep to do the same. (They are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.)
Why Mr. Zucker and the Democratic leadership didn’t throw in some Rocky Mountain and New England states, plus Alabama and New Mexico (among others) for good measure, is beyond us. As long as Maryland has chosen to enact legislation governing other states’ conduct, why stop at just five?
Maryland may count as the nation’s most heavily gerrymandered state where Democrats control the legislature, which explains their hostility to the idea of unilateral reform. If Republicans are crafting gerrymandered voting maps to maximize their clout in Congress, their argument goes, why should Democrats be so pure, especially if it costs them a seat or two in Maryland?