The slugfest continues

September 24, 1991

No one should be surprised that Senate President Mike Miller refuses to support the newest congressional redistricting plan -- least of all the members of the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee on which Miller serves.

When Miller recently left Maryland for a trip to Ireland, the committee ostensibly had completed its work, approving a plan that would have changed the boundaries of the state's eight congressional districts to pit two Republican House members -- Helen Delich Bentley and Wayne Gilchrest -- against each other in a newly fashioned 1st District. But while Miller, probably the most partisan member of the committee, was out of the country, the committee reconvened and passed an alternate plan which essentially protected Bentley at the expense of Democrat Tom McMillen.

As we have noted before in this space, there is no inherently good redistricting plan; politics alone determines which plan prevails. But the committee's most recent machinations make the politics more murky than ever. The House, under the leadership of advisory committee member Clayton Mitchell, is likely to vote for the redistricting plan approved last week. But the Senate, led by Miller, may vote on as many four alternate plans. Consensus -- which, in the final analysis, is what makes one proposal more workable than another -- is now so elusive that the special session which begins Wednesday is likely to degenerate into a political slugfest, accomplishing nothing.

Given that scenario, the prospect of a federal court ultimately having to step in to remap Maryland's congressional districts is beginning to look less like a threat than a solution.

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