Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, R-2nd, says most of her fellow representatives from Maryland will support changes to the congressional redistricting map that would place her on surer footing in her Baltimore County base.
"Seven of the eight are expected to sign off on it by tomorrow," the Bentley said today. The sole opponent, she said, would be Rep. Tom McMillen, D-3rd, who would be hurt by the "consensus" proposal that she favors.
As she envisions it, the Eastern Shore would be linked with some of Anne Arundel County -- McMillen's current base -- rather than with portions of Baltimore and Harford counties as proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer's redistricting panel last month.
HTC Bentley said she believes one district should consist primarily of Baltimore and Harford counties. To her chagrin, the panel last month released a plan that would preserve McMillen's home base but largely eliminate hers.
That plan, which could be revised this week, puts Bentley's home in a district dominated by the Eastern Shore and represented by fellow Republican Wayne T. Gilchrest.
"We seem to be sacrificing the needs of the people of Dundalk and Essex to the political career and ambitions of Rep. Tom McMillen, and that is wrong," Bentley said.
The panel proposed keeping the city of Baltimore in two districts -- Rep. Benjamin Cardin's 3rd and Rep. Kweisi Mfume's 7th -- but splitting Baltimore County into five congressional districts, including the 3rd and 7th.
Proposed revisions to the panel plan were reviewed earlier this week by Schaefer, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. Both Democrats are members of the governor's remapping panel.
To enlist Schaefer's support and to avoid a possible veto of the plan, Miller and Mitchell reportedly are willing to put the Port of Baltimore area -- a strong base of Bentley's support -- into a single district and possibly returning parts of Howard County to Cardin's Baltimore County district.