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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a new congressional map into law on Monday after the Democratic state attorney general’s office agreed to drop its court case.
The new map will continue to favor Democrats in seven of eight districts while restoring a strongly Republican district for Rep. Andy Harris (R). It also gives Republicans a shot at unseating Rep. David Trone (D) in November. Both changes improve the prospects for the GOP to capture control of the U.S. House.
“It’s a tremendous victory for democracy and for free and fair elections in Maryland,” Hogan (R) told reporters.
The new map replaces a more aggressive Democratic proposal that the legislature enacted in December over Hogan’s veto. That map created seven safe Democratic districts and converted Harris’ eastern 1st District into a swing district, raising the possibility Democrats could win all eight districts. Democrats won seven of eight districts in the past decade of House elections.
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Anne Arundel County Judge Lynne Battaglia struck down the first map March 25, describing it as an “extreme partisan gerrymander” that subordinated traditional redistricting criteria like compactness. The legislature passed the replacement map on March 30, when Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office said it planned to appeal Battaglia’s ruling.
“This map, like the one previously passed by the General Assembly, is Constitutional and fair. Both sides have agreed to dismiss their appeals, and our state can move forward to the primary election,” Frosh (D) said in a statement.
The new lines are more favorable to Republicans than the Democratic legislature’s initial proposal. Harris will be strongly favored to win re-election now that the revised 1st District won’t include part of Democratic-leaning Anne Arundel County.
Trone’s 6th District is a new Republican target.
The 6th will include all of Frederick County, part of strongly Democratic Montgomery County near Washington, and all of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties extending to the western edge of the state. Trone’s current district has more of Montgomery and less of Frederick.
Joe Biden would have carried the new version of the 6th by 10 percentage points in the 2020 election, compared to a 23-point margin as the district was configured for the past decade.
Trone, who has primarily self-financed his political campaigns, said last week he would put $2 million into his 2022 re-election bid in anticipation of a closer race. In an e-mail to supporters asking for individual donations, Trone said he has “much less of an advantage than we did two years ago” and that the “national political environment is not nearly as favorable.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org