New bids fail to end deadlock on redistricting

October 17, 1991|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- They met, they ate lunch, they continued to disagree over how to draw Maryland's future congressional district map.

Six House and Senate members, trying to put the monthlong redistricting deadlock behind them, were still divided yesterday over the proposed district pitting Representatives Tom McMillen, and Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st.

House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Kent, unveiled two new proposals.

One would grant Mr. McMillen more Democratic areas around Glen Burnie in his home Anne Arundel County by switching them from the proposed district of Representative Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.-3rd. The other plan would add to Mr. McMillen's district some 14,000 voters in the southern portion of Baltimore.

But Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. criticized both proposals. In either one, he said, the Eastern Shore -- represented by Mr. Gilchrest -- would remain the dominant portion of the district. About 343,000 of the district's residents would be located on the Shore compared with 254,000 on the Western Shore, mostly Anne Arundel County, under the two House proposals.

"For there to be agreement . . . I think there has to be more of a movement of numbers in Anne Arundel County," said Mr. Miller, a strongly partisan Democrat who is Mr. McMillen's prime champion in the General Assembly.

Both the Eastern Shore and the Western Shore should at least be evenly divided to ensure a fair political fight between the two congressmen, he said.

The Senate has passed a McMillen-Gilchrest matchup that would separate Cecil County from the Shore, making Anne Arundel the dominant part of the proposed district.

LTC The House has also passed a McMillen-Gilchrest district proposal but has refused to split the Shore, the home turf of Mr. Mitchell. Along with other Shore lawmakers, Mr. Mitchell wants to retain that region's ability to elect one of its own.

There were no plans yesterday for the six House-Senate conferees to meet again. The General Assembly is slated to reconvene tomorrow to resume the once-a-decade redistricting effort.

The 30-day special session will end a week from tomorrow. With time running out, members of Maryland's delegation in congress are becoming increasingly concerned that a federal court may ++ be asked to settle the differences. They are nervous that judges will not draw them the favorable districts they could expect from fellow politicians.

Latest proposals

House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell Jr.'s suggestions:

* Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th, would gain more Democratic areas around Glen Burnie in his home Anne Arundel County by taking territory from the proposed district of Representative Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.-3rd.

* Mr. McMillen's district would gain some 14,000 voters in the southern portion of Baltimore.

Senate President's Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.'s criticism: Under either proposal, the Eastern Shore, now represented by Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st, would remain the dominant portion of the district.

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