Congressional Redistricting Splits County Four Ways

The Top Stories Of 1991

December 29, 1991|By Paul Shread

In Anne Arundel County politics, 1991 will be remembered as the yearthe county got re-drawn and quartered.

The county, which for years dominated a single congressional district, became a minority in four districts under a plan approved by the General Assembly in October.A bipartisan group of citizens and leaders sued to have the plan thrown out, but a divided panel of federal judges ruled last week that the plan was legal.

Opponents are considering taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. They have been joined by a group from Montgomery County.

"I don't think the majority opinion will withstand constitutional scrutiny," said Annapolis lawyer John R. Greiber, who represents county leaders in the suit.

Greiber will begin drafting the appeal this week.

In the meantime, congressional races are moving ahead in preparation for the March 3 primary. Under the new maps, Anne Arundel is part of districts represented by Democrats Tom McMillen and Ben Cardin and Republicans Helen Bentley and Wayne Gilchrest.

McMillen, D-4th,lost much of his district under the plan, which was drafted to create a safe seat for U.S. Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the fourth-ranking Democrat in Congress.

McMillen will continue representing the entire county until January 1993, when the new maps go into effect. But if he is to represent anyone after that date, he must first get through a tough Democratic primary and the Nov. 1992 general election.

McMillen was lumped into the 1st District with freshman representative Gilchrest. He could have run anywhere, but decided to file in the 1st District, which includes 240,000 Anne Arundel residents.

McMillen's challengers in the primary include two Democratic members of the legislature, John C. Astle of Annapolis and Samuel Q. Johnson from Wicomico County; Annapolis Alderman Ellen O. Moyer and two other challengers.

Among the Gilchrest challengers in the Republican primary are Robert P. Duckworth, who got 41 percent of the vote in a race against McMillen two years ago, and Lisa Renshaw, an Anne Arundel County businesswoman.

McMillen's troubles inspired Sen. Michael J. Wagner, D-Ferndale, to send out Christmas cards with a poem, set to thetune of "The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot":

He's the Congressman that Santa Claus forgot

And goodness knows he didn't want a lot

He wrote a note to Mike and Clay to get his district back

It broke his little heart when he got Eastern Shore intact

In the streets they say that Ben and Steny laughed

Because they gave theirbuddy, Tom, the shaft

I'm so sorry for this laddy, they split hisdistrict badly

He's the Congressman that Santa Claus forgot

County Council members also have been working on their own redistricting plan. Much of the debate has focused on Republican Councilwoman Diane Evans' District 5, which must lose 7,000 residents to balance population among the seven districts.

Evans recently introduced a planthat would keep the most vocal communities -- Shipley's Choice, Berrywood and Lower Broadneck -- in her district. A public hearing on theplan is slated for Jan. 6.

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