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Election Day Is Critical for Maryland’s Map

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
If Maryland voters decide to throw out their Congressional map, the Legislature would need to draw a new map, which Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley would then have to sign into law.

It is hard to imagine Democrats losing any sort of statewide issue this year. The state GOP has proved to be relatively impotent in recent years. But the sheer ugliness of the map has meant that Democrats may not get their way on this. 

The new map, passed one year ago, was an exercise in overt gerrymandering. State and national press has widely derided it as the ugliest in the country — pointing specifically to Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes’ 3rd district. 

The map also tore apart Rep. Roscoe Bartlett’s (R) 6th district, and it is becoming increasingly clear that Democratic businessman John Delaney will defeat him there in November.  

Maryland Republicans did not lay down after O’Malley signed the map into law. Mooney was encouraged by a poll he conducted on the issue in December. By summer, he and other Republicans had successfully petitioned to put the measure on the ballot. 

Mooney said he is confident voters  will throw out the map. He pointed to editorials from the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun as creating enough outrage to help push his case. 

This is not the first time Maryland voters have had the opportunity to knock down a redistricting map. According to the Baltimore Sun, the League of Women Voters petitioned against a 1961 map and voters struck it down in 1962. 

Many — but not all — Maryland Democrats assume that voters will uphold the law. State Democrats have incorporated the referendum as part of their overall initiative campaign, which includes pushing issues such as the legalization of gay marriage, casinos and a state version of the DREAM Act. 

But not all Democrats are on board. Some, such as Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews, have openly supported Mooney’s cause. Others will privately concede a sense of squeamishness about how obviously partisan the lines are.  

The most vocal Democratic critic of the 2011 map, Rep. Donna Edwards, has been silent on the referendum. Democrats in the Maryland delegation were heavily involved in drawing the lines, but not everyone was thrilled with the outcome. 

If Mooney’s efforts prove successful and Democrats respond by redrawing a similar map, he says he will be undeterred and will launch a second petition.  

He explained that a petition drive will only be easier to execute a second time around because he already has the contact information of the previous signees. 

It should be noted that Mooney will be a leading GOP contender for the 6th district in 2014 should Bartlett lose his re-election bid. 

“The game can continue,” Mooney said.

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