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WaPo's McCartney: Redistricting In Va. And Md., Battle Over Transit Board Seats

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Democrats in Maryland are eyeing the seat of an older GOP Congressman, while in Virginia counties are sparring with Governor McDonnell over control of public transportation. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney weighs in on these local issues.

Redistricting in Virginia and Maryland

Maryland Democrats are using their monopoly power over redistricting in the state to knock off Republican Roscoe Bartlett. He's the congressman from the 6th district in the NW corner of the state, running down into parts of Frederick County at present. The plan that they unveiled this week would gerrymander the district by running it all the way down into Montgomery County. It would pick up Gaithersburg, Poolesville, and add a lot of democratic voters to his district.

Bartlett is 85. The Democrats are hoping he'll take the hint and retire. The Democrats even already know who they want to run against him -- Robert Garagiola of Montgomery County, currently the majority leader in the state senate.

"This is just a blatant attempt to use redistricting to help the Democrats pick up a House seat in Maryland," says McCartney. "Maryland is currently at 6 to 2 in favor of the Democrats and would be 7 to 1." 

Democrats defend themselves by saying that the Republicans do the same thing to them in every state where the Republicans are in charge. Moreover, the Republicans have the upper hand nationwide -- Maryland is one of the few places where the Democrats are in charge and use their power in this way.

In Virginia, the Republican plan is to preserve their current 8 to 3 majority in the House. The Democrats have a plan to make some changes around the Richmond suburbs that would push it to 7-4. That is stalled right now -- it may end up in the courts.

Battle over Virginia seats on transit boards

There was a step towards a compromise at a meeting Thursday night. There's a tug of war over control of mass transit between the McDonnell administration in Richmond and Northern Virginia counties and municipalities. Basically, the Northern Virginia jurisdictions are resisting the state's desire to get seats on the Metro board and potentially on the boards of every suburban bus service.

Consequently, the McDonnell administration has been holding up more than $20 million in state funds that are supposed to go to help pay for Metro and these bus services.

"The lawyers still have to thrash it out, but it looks like McDonnell will get the appointee of his choosing placed on the Metro board in January," says McCartney. "In return, the state will agree that it will only get one seat on the Metro board and not two, as it has sought in the past."

When that deal is done, Richmond would let those funds flow.

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