Democrats devise congressional redistricting plan

August 02, 1991|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- The Maryland Democratic Party scrambled to complete a new, harmony-inducing map of the state's congressional districts yesterday.

The plan offered yesterday would throw GOP Representatives Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st, and Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, into the same electoral pot in a district that would cover the Eastern Shore and wind around into parts of Cecil, Harford and Baltimore counties.

Party planners were drawing a new "minority rights district" for heavily black sections of Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

They were also attempting to ease the concerns of Representative Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th, who has been the odd man out -- a congressman potentially unmoored from the constituency that elected him and thrown in with voters more likely to be loyal to someone else.

Previously, other Maryland members of Congress appeared willing to see Mr. McMillen shifted into a district with Representative Gilchrest.

But yesterday some progress was being made on Mr. McMillen's behalf, said Thomas H. Cowley, the party's executive director, and Jerry Grant, Mr. McMillen's chief aide.

Mr. Grant said that the other congressmen appeared to be accepting a "burden-sharing" plan to keep Mr. McMillen in about the same district he now represents save for solidly Democratic parts of Prince George's County that are being wrapped into the new minority district.

Mr. Grant said that Nathan Landow, the state party chairman, met Wednesday with members of the congressional delegation to begin forging an agreement that would satisfy all the Democratic incumbents.

The Democratic plan, which still needs last-minute adjustments, would give Representative Beverly B. Byron, D-Md.-6th, what Mr. Cowley called a "Pennsylvania line" district.

Mrs. Byron would lose precincts she now represents in western Montgomery County and would move into parts of Harford County.

Southern Maryland, traditionally paired with the Eastern Shore in the 1st District, would be part of a new district created for Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th.

Neither Mr. Hoyer nor other members of the delegation could be reached last night for comment on the party's plan or on Mr. Grant's forecasts of consensus.

Whether the plan would please the state's special redistricting panel remains to be seen. The committee, appointed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, will make its recommendations in about a month.

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