Gerrymandering - Time to “Do the Right Thing”
By John Walsh Candidate for U.S. Congress, District 8
Every ten years following the national census, all of the states are required to review their congressional district maps and make adjustments, based on shifts in population and the number of representatives allocated.
In 2011, after the 2010 census, Maryland’s Democratic governor and legislature passed a law deliberately designed to create an additional Democratic seat in Congress. In order to implement the new law, Republican voters in Frederick, Carroll and Montgomery Counties were effectively disenfranchised. This partisan redistricting process is commonly referred to as “gerrymandering.”
The practice of redistricting to favor the party in control of a state began in 1812 in Massachusetts under the direction of Governor Elbridge Gerry. Since one of the newly created districts resembled a salamander, a new term – gerrymandering – was created to identify both the person most responsible and the oddly shaped maps that could result from the application of this concept.
For those of you aren’t familiar with the map of Congressional District 8, I encourage you to look at it on the Maryland Board of Elections website. The district map itself is an indictment of the intentions of the governor and legislature.
Disenfranchising Republican voters is not new in our state. Those of you who have lived here for the past 20 years or longer will recall how the Democrats gerrymandered the 8th district after the 2000 census as well. This effort was the deciding factor in the defeat of a prominent seven- time Republican Congresswoman, Connie Morella.
The most recent gerrymandering decision made in 2011 is particularly relevant during this mid-term election year, since our incumbent Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin voted to pass this current gerrymandering effort when he was a state senator in 2011. How ironic it is that Rep. Raskin now represents many of those Republicans he voted to disenfranchise!
From all appearances, Mr. Raskin seems to want all of us to forget his complacency in this gerrymandering effort by now advocating for independent redistricting commissions, submitting an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court on the now infamous 2001 Maryland redistricting law and advocating other solutions.
What I have not heard from Mr. Raskin is a commitment to advocate that his fellow Democrats in Annapolis overturn the gerrymandering decision he made during their consideration of a new redistricting plan following the 2020 census. Mr. Raskin is a constitutional law professor and he knows how pernicious gerrymandering is to voters and the government in general.
I call on Mr. Raskin to “Do the Right Thing!”
If you want to find out more about our campaign and/or get involved, you can visit our website which is still in development, www.johnwalshforcongress.com, email me, at [email protected] or call me at 301-257-8045.