Delegation May Close Ranks To Challenge Redistricting

Jimeno Anticipates A Legal Wrangle To Restore Boundaries

October 27, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

County political leaders will decide tomorrow if they will challengea congressional redistricting plan in federal court that they fear will dilute the county's clout on Capitol Hill.

State Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-Brooklyn Park, said he expects the county's entire 18-member General Assembly delegation to agree to file suit when it meets at 5 p.m. in Annapolis.

"If any issue has ever brought us together, it's this one," said Jimeno, chairman of the county Senate delegation. "We're putting partisan politics aside and wearing the hat of Anne Arundel countians trying to fend off the vultures."

County lawmakers have charged theircolleagues in the General Assembly with gerrymandering ever since the legislature adopted a redistricting plan Tuesday that divides Anne Arundel into four districts.

"It seemed as if someone drew the lines, and then decided to move the people around to try to fill them in," said Delegate Tyras S. "Bunk" Athey.

Attorney General Joseph Curran's office has assured Gov. William Donald Schaefer and state legislative leaders that the redistricting plan is legal.

County lawmakers' charges revolve around the movement of a heavily Republican enclave in Pasadena and Gibson Island across the Patapsco into the 2nd congressional district now represented by Republican Helen Delich Bentley. A Pasadena voter would have to travel 25 miles through two otherdistricts to visit the bulk of the district.

It also places Democratic strongholds of Brooklyn and Curtis Bay into a new 1st district that pits Democratic incumbent Tom McMillen against Eastern Shore in cumbent Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican.

"They've diluted the Republican strength in the district McMillen would have to run in and packed another Republican district," said Delegate John Gary, R-Millersville.

Crofton, another Republican enclave, also was divided into two congressional districts, Gary said.

A legal battle could be costly, both financially and politically, Jimeno said.

"Unfortunately, when we go to court, a lot of toes are going to be stepped on," hesaid. "If we are going to go this course, everyone will have to understand that and ride it out."

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