Senate votes to pit McMillen and Gilchrest House returns Thursday to study districting plan

October 01, 1991|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- A new congressional map that pits Representative Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th, against Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st, cleared the Senate yesterday, although it faces an uncertain future in the House of Delegates.

The House, setting aside a monthlong recess, will return Thursday to consider the proposal, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's, said after the 33-9 vote.

House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, "indicated he'd look at the plan," said Mr. Miller, although he conceded the chances of Mr. Mitchell accepting the plan were "slim."

"I don't have the foggiest idea what the speaker's going to do," said Sen. John A. Pica Jr., D-Baltimore, chairman of the Senate redistricting committee. "We'll either sit down and work out a compromise . . . or we'll let a federal court draw the map."

Mr. Mitchell could not be reached yesterday.

The House speaker recessed his chamber last week after approving a redistricting plan that would place Mr. McMillen and Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd, in the same district. The Senate followed with a proposal pitting Mrs. Bentley against Mr. Gilchrest.

Two congressmen have to double up because of the creation of a majority-black district in the Washington suburbs to satisfy the federal Voting Rights Act and a "safe seat" for Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th, a House leader seen as the state's most powerful congressman. Creating those two districts leaves seven lawmakers vying for six seats.

Mr. Mitchell abruptly declared a recess after the House couldn't agree with the Senate on a plan and after efforts by House members to forge a compromise similar to the McMillen-Gilchrest plan, which couples portions of Anne Arundel County with most of the Eastern Shore.

What particularly troubles Mr. Mitchell is that the McMillen-Gilchrest matchup would require that Cecil County be split from the Shore and added to a proposed district for Mrs. Bentley.

Mr. Mitchell and other Shore lawmakers have been adamant that the entire Shore remain intact.

"The Senate has not been fair to the Eastern Shore," declared Sen. Frederick C. Malkus Jr., D-Dorchester, who voted against the plan yesterday. Anne Arundel senators also denounced the plan that splits the county into thirds, among Mr. McMillen, Mr. Hoyer and Representative Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.-3rd.

Some lawmakers wondered whether the new Senate plan could be made more palatable to Mr. Mitchell by returning Cecil County to the McMillen-Gilchrest matchup. That would require population shifts elsewhere. Senator Pica said yesterday that he would want changes made in all districts and not just at the expense of Mr. McMillen by trimming his Anne Arundel area.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who backed the House plan, will review the Senate plan and talk to legislative leaders, the governor's aides said.

Still, one gubernatorial adviser said the McMillen-Gilchrest matchup would likely draw the governor's support because the plan also forges a suitable district for Mrs. Bentley, whose pro-maritime voice the governor views as important to the state.

"It's certainly one of the better ones that we've had," Mrs. Bentley said yesterday of the new Senate plan. Mrs. Bentley's office helped draft the plan.

An aide to Mr. McMillen said the congressman was uncertain if he would run in the proposed district with Mr. Gilchrest, saying there were nine political options for him to choose: running in any of the eight congressional districts or challenging U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., who is up for re-election next year. A congressman is not required to live in the congressional district he represents.

The McMillen aide said polling would determine the congressman's next move. Mr. McMillen did not return a reporter's phone call yesterday.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gilchrest, who said he still supports the House plan, said he was not too concerned what district is drawn for him.

"Wherever they put us is where we will represent the people," he said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.