The Maryland General Assembly will take up a Congressional redistricting plan during a special session next week. While the proposed map stands to benefit Democrats, it is Democrats in the state's biggest county who are speaking out against the plan.
Currently, Montgomery County is a part of three Congressional districts. Under the proposed map, it would still have three districts, but the county would not make up the majority of any of those.
One district would be split between part of Montgomery County and the Baltimore suburbs. Another district would include part of Montgomery and all of western Maryland, and the third would be split between Montgomery and most of Carroll County.
Crafting the districts in such a fashion will affect the fast-growing minority populations, says Maryland Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D).
"Over 50 percent of the growth in the state was Hispanic growth," she says. "Now, it is dispersed so that other representatives will have a higher minority vote in their district, diluting their voting strength." In particular, Gutierrez worries about U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's (R-Md.) district moving south to include more of Montgomery County.
County Council member Marc Elrich says he understands that Democrats want to win that seat, but he feels it could be done in a better fashion than combining the disparate regions of Montgomery County and western Maryland.
"It begins to look like we had a second objective, which was a political objective for individuals, rather than looking at the communities first," Elrich says.
Democratic State Senator Rob Garagiola represents the area of Montgomery County that would move into Bartlett's district. If the current redistricting proposal is passed by the General Assembly, it's heavily rumored that he would run for the Democratic nomination for Congress.
Proposed Montgomery County redistricting map: