The special session of the Maryland General Assembly dealing with Congressional redistricting is underway in Annapolis, and the proposed redistricting map has drawn the ire of many, including minority groups in Montgomery County, who say their voting strength is being diluted by new districts that are shared with western Maryland and suburban Baltimore.
"There is no voting rights requirement that they all be packed into one district, any more than there is a requirement that all non-minority peoples be packed into one district," says Governor Martin O'Malley, who disagreed with the sentiment.
It is widely believed that Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett would be the big loser in the proposed redistricting. His 6th District would lose a portion of the heavily-Republican Frederick County and gain portions of the Democratic-leaning Montgomery County. This may shift enough votes in that district to the Democratic camp to shift the balance of power such that Democrats would gain a 7 to 1 advantage over the Republicans in terms of Congressional districts in Maryland.
"The sad part is is that it's dividing communities of interest," says GOP state senator David Brinkley of Frederick County. "It's dividing Montgomery County, and throwing two separate areas into far western Maryland. And even Takoma Park in with Thurmont and Emmittsburg. There's not a lot of community of interest with that."
Both the state house and senate could vote on the redistricting proposal as early as Monday night. Democrats believe they have enough votes to pass the proposal.