Following through on a promise, Gov. Larry Hogan created a commission Thursday to recommend how to reform the way Maryland draws its congressional districts, widely regarded as among the most gerrymandered in the nation. Hogan said he hopes to put a constitutional amendment before voters in 2016 to change the way the maps are drawn. The idea won immediate praise from election reform advocates such as Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, but it was quickly dismissed by Democrats who control the General Assembly. “It’s not going to happen,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said. At a State House news conference, Hogan called the results of the last two redistricting cycles — both carried out under Democratic governors — “disgraceful and an embarrassment to our state.”
Federal courts have agreed with critics that Maryland’s current map is convoluted — one judge likened the 3rd District to “a broken-winged pterodactyl” — but have ruled that it is not unconstitutional. A conservative advocacy group nonetheless filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court raising a new challenge.
Hogan, a Republican, promised that the new commission would operate in a bipartisan manner. He appointed a Democrat and a Republican to co-chair the 11-member panel — retired U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams and Cato Institute senior fellow Walter Olson.
The governor said he has invited Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, both Democrats, as well as the two minority leaders of the General Assembly to each appoint a member.