If you thought the bloodletting over new congressional boundaries was messy, wait until officials in Annapolis start revamping Maryland's General Assembly districts. Self-preservation is foremost on the minds of most legislators but conflicting interests already are producing some testy showdowns (see editorial below).
Unlike his secondary role in congressional map-making, Gov. William Donald Schaefer has the pivotal role in legislative redistricting. This is the governor's opportunity to exert maximum political leverage with members of the General Assembly. The district lines he proposes for the 141 House seats and the 47 Senate seats cannot be challenged unless both the House and the Senate agree on an amended plan within 45 days after the governor submits his maps next January. Such an agreement will be difficult to achieve.
Local delegations are now drafting their own plans for the governor's advisory committee on redistricting, a panel dominated by House Speaker R. Clayton Mitchell and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. The group has little time to meld various plans together: it is scheduled to present a redistricting map for public consideration in just three weeks and to give the governor its recommendations in mid-December. Mr. Schaefer then has a month to make his final choices.