It took only a light breeze to lift the smell of sausage and pit beef over the throng of supporters for U.S. Representative Tom McMillen yesterday afternoon, but food and beer were second on the menu to thepolitical talk.
While 1,200 people downed food and passed around campaign buttons, many were wondering whether once-a-decade redistricting will leave the 4th District Democrat's name on their ballots next year.
But if the two-term congressman, whose district currently includes all of Anne Arundel and parts of Howard and Prince George's counties, was as concerned as his constituents, he wasn't showing it.
"What may come out will be even better," he said. "I'll represent wherever I'm given to the best of my ability. My main concern is keeping asmuch of my jurisdiction as possible.
"If Anne Arundel County is part of the district, then Tom McMillen has scored a big come-from-behind victory," McMillen said as he greeted supporters arriving at his seventh annual bull roast at Kurtz Beach in Pasadena. "It seems like everyone was trying to split the county."
A gubernatorial redistricting panel ultimately rejected a plan that would have split McMillen's district in Anne Arundel and
forced him to run against Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest in a district that included the Eastern Shore.
The committee was trying to create a new black-majority district in Prince George's County while at the same time protecting Steny H. Hoyer, D-5th, by creating a new district in Southern Maryland.
It put Helen Bentley, R-2nd, into the 1st District, where she would go upagainst fellow Republican Gilchrest.
McMillen complained to Gov. William Donald Schaefer -- who has threatened to veto the plan if it passes -- that the Democrats had abandoned him in efforts to keep Bentley's district intact.
Many of McMillen supporters at the bull roast agreed. "That's politicking, and it's wrong," said Ed Brown, a Pasadena resident who says Schaefer's threat to veto the redistricting plan is a payback to Anne Arundel for not supporting him in last year's gubernatorial election.
"He's going to punish us," Brown said. "I don't think he's going to get away with it."
Brown, like everyone else at the roast, gave his full support to McMillen. "I think he's done pretty good," he said. "He's doing pretty much what he said hewas going to do. With today's politicians, that's hard."
Adrin Foster, a senior citizen from Clinton, in the southern part of Prince George's, said McMillen was her favorite elected representative.
"Ithink he's wonderful," she said. "I am having the time of my life. And we love Tom also. He is so nice to our seniors."
But she's saddened by the fight over redistricting and said she was hurt when McMillen was jeered two weeks ago when he spoke at a public hearing in Annapolis. "Isn't that a darn shame?" she said.
McMillen stood at theentrance gates to greet the people who continued to stream into the bull roast hours after it began. He played down next year's election,saying he will not worry about the two Republicans, Crofton residentRobert P. Duckworth and Lisa Renshaw, of Severn, who already have announced their candidacies.
"We will worry about our own campaign,"he said. "We have to figure out where our district is before we start campaigning for office."