Anne Arundel lawmakers have endorsed a controversial redistricting plan that would protect U.S. Representative Tom McMillen's 4th District seat.
But Republican leaders already have promised to challenge the plan, proposed by the Governor's Redistricting Advisory committeelast week, in court if adopted by the General Assembly.
Yesterday, the county's Democratic-dominated House of Delegates and Senate contingents voted to support the committee's plan over separate proposals by Senate Minority Leader John A. Cade, R-Severna Park, and the county's Republican State Central committee.
Although some Democratic lawmakers said they may have preferred Cade's option, they said they had no choice but to support the committee plan, which was drafted in part by House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Eastern Shore, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Prince George's.
If the committee plan fails to pass the legislature, the Democrats said, the House and Senate leadership will probably push througha plan that divides Anne Arundel County among several congressional districts and pits McMillen, a Crofton resident, against Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-1st.
Representative Benjamin L. Cardin, D-3rd, already is lobbying to split Anne Arundel, combining part of the county with Gilchrest's Eastern Shore district and part with the Prince George's County area represented by Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th. Cardin, a former House speaker who still has influence over state lawmakers, reportedly does not like the way the committee plan redrew the boundaries of his Baltimore County district.
Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-2nd, and the Republican Party also oppose the committee plan because it would shift Dundalk and Essex, her base of support,into McMillen's district and place her in Gilchrest's district.
"It's an easy game. It's called, 'Everybody's going to protect their own ass,' " said Sen. Michael J. Wagner, D-Ferndale.
"The highest priority is that we don't want Anne Arundel County carved up four different ways or have it get lumped in with the Eastern Shore," said Sen. Gerald W. Winegrad, D-Annapolis.
Lawmakers must redraw the state's congressional boundaries, and, based on the 1990 Census, create a minority district in Prince George's County.
They will meet in a special session Sept. 25 to consider the proposals. New boundaries must be in place for congressional primaries next March.
Anne ArundelCounty would dominate a district, in effect electing its own congressman, under both GOP plans heard yesterday. Cade's plan would allow the five largest subdivisions, including Anne Arundel, to dominate their own districts while pitting Bentley against Cardin.
The county's GOP plan, supported by the county's three Republican delegates, would give each incumbent congressman his own district. But it would require Hoyer to run in the new minority district.
"We tried to drafta plan that would be acceptable to a three-judge panel," said Delegate John G. Gary, R-Millersville. "We're going to push this plan all the way to court."
Cade was absent yesterday due to illness. The three GOP delegates abstained at the Democrats' request, to keep the county united behind the drive for a single district.