Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is creating a citizens redistricting commission that will recommend new congressional and state legislative district lines for the state.
The commission, which Hogan established by executive order Tuesday, will consist of nine registered Maryland voters — three Democrats, three Republicans, three independents — who will hold regional hearings and submit maps to the state legislature for consideration before the 2022 election.
The commission’s proposals aren’t binding on the Democratic-controlled legislature, which can create its own maps and has rebuffed Hogan’s repeated calls to transfer redistricting responsibilities away from the legislature and to a nonpartisan commission.
“Unlike the partisan backdoor manner in which the state’s political power brokers have conducted the state’s redistricting process in the past, this time we want to make sure that the people of Maryland are actually the ones drawing these lines, and not the politicians or the party bosses,” Hogan said at a news conference.
Under Maryland law, congressional lines are drawn by the state legislature and are subject to a governor’s veto. The governor proposes a new state legislative map that becomes law only if the legislature doesn’t enact a map within 45 days. Hogan will transmit the citizen redistricting commission’s final maps to the state legislature, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1 in both chambers.
While some other states are set to gain or lose seats in reapportionment, Maryland is projected to remain at eight congressional districts. Democrats have held seven of the eight districts since the 2012 election under the current, Democratic-drawn map — including the serpentine 3rd District, which winds through parts of five counties including the city of Baltimore. Meanwhile, the state has twice elected Republican Hogan, who in 2018 won re-election with 55% of the vote.
That map was challenged in court, but the Supreme Court ultimately rejected the challenge.
“Nowhere has gerrymandering been allowed to run more rampant than here in the state of Maryland, where decades of unfair redistricting and the drawing of legislative and congressional districts have made a mockery of the electoral system,” Hogan said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org