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Between the Lines: Rep. Trent Franks Thinks DOJ Overstepped Role

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Trent Franks says the Department of Justice has overstepped its bounds collaborating with Arizona mapmaking officials. The proposed Congressional map favors Democrats.

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The current 4th district includes most of Prince George's County, wraps around the D.C. line to the north, and then snakes northwest to include parts of Montgomery County. The new 4th still includes much of Prince George's County but now swings northeast to Anne Arundel County, a more Republican area.

But the crux of Edwards' grievance is Montgomery County, which is cut out of the 4th district completely in the proposed map. The new map makes it highly likely the county with a sizable minority population, including African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians will have three white Representatives.

O'Malley's office responded to Edwards by confirming that the governor is considering the Congressional delegation's comments.

"Districts 4 and 7 are still solidly African-American on the proposed map by the Committee," O'Malley's office said in a statement. "Additionally, there is still a strong African-American population in District 5 with no intent to divide the Hispanic and Asian votes. And with a competitive 6th District, Montgomery County will now have a significant minority population."

But Edwards disagreed, calling the statement "absolutely not true."

Meanwhile, the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee warned that Edwards might be primaried from the center in her new district. A PCCC email solicited supporters to contact the state Legislature to oppose the new map.

"Rep. Donna Edwards one of the few bold progressives in Congress is under attack," the email stated. "Maryland's state leadership may divide up Donna's district. ... If these new maps are approved, Donna's progressive voice could be lost. The next Representative might be a more conservative Democrat."

Edwards came to Congress by defeating a more moderate Democrat, then-Rep. Al Wynn, in the 2008 primary. Edwards' office denied that fear of a primary was a factor in her concern.

"The Congresswoman's opposition to the map has nothing to do with a primary challenge," an Edwards spokesman said. "Her opposition concerns political interests superseding minority voting rights interests. As a one-time primary challenger, Congresswoman Edwards understands it is part of the democratic process and not a cause for concern."

The committee's draft map serves as a recommendation to O'Malley but is not binding. The governor can make adjustments prior to submitting it to legislators during Monday's special session.

Nevada: New Map Due by End of Next Week

Democrats and Republicans continued to argue this week whether the Voting Rights Act mandates that one of the state's four Congressional districts must be majority-minority, but it's now up to three court-appointed special masters to draw the new map.

During two days of public hearings Monday and Tuesday with the special masters in Las Vegas and Carson City, Democrats maintained their stance that Latino voters should not be packed into one district, as it would actually lessen their voting power. Republicans disagreed, arguing for one majority-minority district, according to local reports.

Both arguments would also help the parties politically, as Republicans hope for a 2-2 split in the delegation and Democrats want two safe districts plus one competitive district, allowing for a 3-1 edge.

With the hearings concluded, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the special masters now have until Oct. 21 to complete Congressional and state legislative maps. On Nov. 16, District Judge James Russell will either accept the maps as drawn or ask for revisions.

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