Thank you for visiting our website

Featuring breaking political news and commentary on local, state, and national issues.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Maryland Sixth District Blues

George Wenschhof

Western Maryland Democrats, longing for a change in representation, have reason to be optimistic. Republicans, on the other hand, have reason to sing the Blues.

The change in the sixth congressional district to solid blue illustrates both the strength of the Maryland Democratic Party and the craziness that surrounds the redistricting process.

Population changes reported by the census every ten years, is the justification for redistricting and currently, 36 states do so by authority of their state legislatures. Interestingly, seven states have only one Representative, due to the size of their population.

The remaining states use an independent or bipartisan commission, with a few of those states retaining state legislative approval.

Further demonstrating the nasty partisan aspect of the redistricting process, 13 members of Congress are facing challenges from fellow incumbents of their own party in primaries across the nation this year.

One such race was in Ohio, where Democratic Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur ended up facing each other on Tuesday with Kaptur the winner.

In Maryland, strong Democratic voter registration has resulted in a Democratic Governor, 35-47 state senate seats, 98-141 state delegate seats and 6-8 congressional seats.

Over the last ten elections, Democratic candidates, running in Western Maryland’s sixth congressional district averaged 39% of the vote, losing to Republican Representative Roscoe Bartlett each time, due primarily to a Republican voter registration advantage.

As a result of redistricting, Democrats now hold a 42,000 voter registration advantage over Republicans 183,000 to 141,000, with Unaffiliated/Other at 90,000 (totals rounded off).

The *voter registration breakdown by county is:

Montgomery County – D-103,794, R-50,089, Unaffiliated/Others-51,299
Washington County – D-30,906, R-37,280, Unaffiliated/Others-15,778
Frederick County – D-27,967, R-22,907, Unaffiliated/Others-14,526
Allegany County – D-15,888, R-19,821, Unaffiliated/Others-6,228
Garrett County – D-4,805, R-11,434, Unaffiliated/Others-2,206

A quick analysis reveals Montgomery County voters now make up about 57% (103,794) and Frederick County 15% (27,967) of the Democratic registered voters in the new district.

The seat is now considered "Leans Democrat" and is most likely included in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee "Drive for 25" effort to regain a majority in the House.

As a result of the gerrymandered district, five Democrats and eight Republicans, including Bartlett, have filed to run for the seat, fueling all of the political shenanigans voters have come to expect.

The mudslinging between several Democratic candidate campaigns is now in full force, perhaps due to the knowledge the winner will have a voter registration advantage in the general election.

Voters go to the polls on April 3 to determine the candidates to move on to the general election. Early voting begins on Saturday March 24 and runs through Thursday March 29.

Thomas Schaller, in a column published in the Baltimore Sun, summed up the current redistricting process with the following: "In a democracy, voters are supposed to pick the politicians who represent them. But gerrymandering too often inverts this relationship: Politicians pick their voters, typically with incumbent-protection and party-expansion objectives in mind. Is it any wonder that a Congress full of mostly safe incumbents representing contorted districts suffers from record-low approval ratings?”

I’m reminded of the pick-up games I used to play in my youth. Two captains would select the players for their team.

No questions asked in regard to political affiliation; the choices made by the captains were based on selecting the best players to help the team win.

The few states that use an independent or bipartisan commission to handle redistricting have it right and it would be wise for the rest of the states to adopt the same policy.

Perhaps, Representatives would then be elected who will work together to move America forward.

*Thanks to Frederick County Board of Elections for voter registration data.


To receive "Daily Email Updates" from Air-it-Out with George Wenschhof, click on "Subscribe to this feed" below.

No comments: