Cardin backers wondering why

The Political Game

Redistricting: The congressman's camp asks if anger led to draft maps, but population shifts may be more on point.

January 29, 2002|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

AS REP. Benjamin L. Cardin works furiously to recapture key precincts his congressional district might lose through the once-a-decade redistricting process, some of his supporters are asking: What did he do to anger Gov. Parris N. Glendening?

Last week, Glendening released a draft redistricting map that upset Cardin of the 3rd District more than any other Democratic incumbent.

Although the plan was created by an advisory panel, the work was completed under close supervision from the governor's office.

Glendening has made no secret of his desire to tilt the 4-4 partisan split among the state's congressional delegation and elect one or two more Democrats.

It was clear from the start that Cardin and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of the 7th District would see significant changes because both Baltimore-area Democrats had to gain thousands of additional voters in their districts to meet population requirements.

When the map came out, it was Cardin who issued a statement saying that his district may have been altered more than that of any other incumbent nationally. It was Cardin who spent Friday holed up in a State House office, trying to preserve traditionally Jewish neighborhoods for his district.

Cardin supporters wondered if he was being punished for ruminating about a run for governor in 1998, when Glendening was riding low in the polls, and many Democrats were seeking an alternative.

Cardin also mused about running for governor last year, and has been less effusive than some of his colleagues -- notably Cummings -- in embracing Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as she embarks on her gubernatorial bid.

But in reality, the proposed shape of the 3rd District speaks more to the Baltimore region's population shifts and complex racial dynamics than it does to retribution for perceived disloyalties.

Especially after the General Assembly redistricting proposal drew ire from black lawmakers, it is no surprise Glendening would do his best to ensure that Cummings and Rep. Albert R. Wynn, both African-Americans, had comfortable districts. Wynn is in the 4th District.

Cummings has yet to complain in public that some predominantly black neighborhoods in the Randallstown area are being removed from his 7th District and switched to the 2nd -- to improve the chances of a Democratic candidate such as Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger.

Those goals -- preserving black lawmakers, adding Democratic voters to the 2nd District and responding to flight from Baltimore -- leave Cardin squeezed.

Perhaps the best evidence against a Cardin vendetta comes from House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., a member of the redistricting panel whose staff is helping Cardin restore some precincts.

Because Taylor would love to be considered as a lieutenant governor candidate on Townsend's ticket, it is unlikely he would assist Cardin if the Glendening administration were truly out to get him.

Townsend gains support of Miller, three delegates

Townsend continues to collect important endorsements in her all-but-certain run for governor.

Last night, one of the state's most powerful Democrats, Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller, said he is backing Townsend.

The announcement came during an Annapolis reception in the Senate office building that bears Miller's name. He was joined by the three other lawmakers from the 27th District: Dels. James E. Proctor Jr., Joseph F. Vallario Jr. and George W. Owings III.

"She has a very strong record to run on, particularly for the youth of America," Miller said.

Townsend has the strong backing of Glendening and Taylor, and has received support of many senators.

Bartlett announces run for his fifth term in 6th

Understandably unfazed by the district map, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Western Maryland Republican, has announced he will seek a fifth term this year.

Bartlett lives in the 6th District, which would stretch 170 miles across nine counties from the state's western border into Baltimore County.

Bartlett, 75, has previously supported term limits, but now says, "The job's still not done."

Frostburg mayor decides against seeking re-election

Frostburg Mayor John N. Bambacus, a former state lawmaker, has announced he won't seek a fifth term.

But the chairman of the political science department at Frostburg State University says his days in public service are not over.

"I'm going to spend about a month thinking about it," said Bambacus of his future. Local media reports speculate that he could run for Allegany County Circuit Court clerk or state Senate.

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