New districts baffle candidates as well as voters

October 29, 1992|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

Tom McMillen's lawn signs are cropping up on fellow Democrat Ben Cardin's turf. Registered voters in Mr. Cardin's district are showing up at rallies for Steny Hoyer.

It isn't pretty, but neither is it the bedlam Anne Arundel County's political leaders predicted after last year's congressional redistricting.

Anne Arundel, which had elected its own congressman since 1972, lost the tug of war for congressional seats and was sliced up and parceled out to four districts.

In none of them does the county have a majority, even though it is the state's fifth-largest subdivision. That has raised fears among voters that the county's interests will be forgotten on Capitol Hill.

"We're like orphans," complained Robert Dominick, whose corner of Pasadena was spliced onto the 2nd District, where incumbent Helen D. Bentley faces Democrat Michael Hickey, a Harford County attorney.

"I haven't gotten a single piece of campaign literature. I haven't seen any of the candidates around here. And there's been nothing in the [local] newspapers, I guess because [the district] is predominantly in Baltimore County," he said.

Mr. Dominick's chunk of northeast Anne Arundel, which comprises less than 12 percent of the district, is dramatically overshadowed by Baltimore and Harford counties. And the other three sections of the county are similarly overwhelmed.

The core of the county makes up less than half of the new 1st District, which stretches from Elkton to Ocean City and Annapolis to Curtis Bay.

It also is the only district in which two incumbents are pitted against each other. Mr. McMillen, a three-term Democrat from Crofton, faces Wayne T. Gilchrest, an Eastern Shore Republican completing his first term.

The residents of northwest Anne Arundel make up about 15 percent of Mr. Cardin's 3rd District, which is dominated by Baltimore and western Baltimore County.

Mr. Cardin faces Republican William T. S. Bricker.

Residents in the southern and western half of the county constitute less than 20 percent of the 5th District, which includes large sections of Prince George's County and all of Southern Maryland. Mr. Hoyer, a ranking House Democrat, faces Republican Larry Hogan Jr., an Upper Marlboro Realtor.

"I can't see any good in what happened to Anne Arundel County," said John Gary, state coordinator of the Bush-Quayle campaign and a Millersville resident.

"We're only getting minor attention from the candidates because they are going where the big votes are," Mr. Gary said.

The candidates disagree, protesting that they have made numerous trips this summer and fall scouting the new territory. But they admit the new districts have taken some getting used to.

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