Though the drive from Mount Washington in Baltimore to Hunt Valley in Baltimore County spanned only 13 miles, the travelers passed through four different congressional districts. Members of the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other groups stopped at four different restaurants along the way Sunday afternoon to highlight what they characterized as Maryland’s extreme gerrymandering, in which boundaries of districts are manipulated to favor a specific incumbent or political party. Opponents of the practice said they felt the momentum was with them to start redrawing district lines to be more compact and fair. In Maryland, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one. But with the map drawn in 2011 by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and legislative leaders, Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state’s House delegation by seven to one.
At the event Sunday, Republican Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said the governor’s office will again back a bill next year to establish a bipartisan commission to redraw congressional districts.
Similar measures in the past have failed. Democrats have pointed out that Republicans have drawn gerrymandered districts in states they control, and say ceding majority control of the process in Maryland would amount to unilateral disarmament.
Democratic state lawmakers approved legislation this year to reform the redistricting process in Maryland if five other states did the same. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, called the measure “phony” and vetoed it. Rutherford said he hopes Democratic leaders in Annapolis will support the bipartisan commission.