When Democrat Kweisi Mfume won Tuesday’s special primary election to represent Maryland’s 7th Congressional District, he became the presumptive winner of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings’ seat — even though there’s also a Republican nominee for the seat and less than a fifth of the district’s voters cast a ballot. Political analysts say that’s in part because Maryland’s congressional districts are designed to give Democrats an outsized advantage.
Creating a nonpartisan process for drawing the districts has been a priority for Gov. Larry Hogan since early on in his first term, but his continued calls for action appear likely to be ignored for yet another legislative session.
Hogan has introduced a version of the same redistricting proposal every legislative session since 2016, but the bills have never gotten to the House or Senate floor. During his State of the State address on Wednesday, Hogan urged lawmakers to change that this year.
“You have a chance to do the right thing, to strike a win for democracy, fairness, and decency by finally, after five years, bringing the nonpartisan redistricting bill to the floor of this body for an up or down vote,” he said.
Hogan’s latest proposal would amend the state constitution to create an independent commission that would draw the districts. The districts would also have to meet certain criteria. They would need to be compact, and could not be drawn to account for residents’ political leanings.