Governor's Redistricting Task Force Gets to Work This Week
After the 2010 Census, Maryland will keep eight seats in Congress, but how they're laid out may change.
On Monday, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced his Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee (GRAC) for the 2011-2012 congressional and legislative redistricting.
At the beginning each decade the U.S. government, under the direction of the U.S. Census Bureau, counts the number of residents in each state and doles out congressional representation based on the current population.
In the 2010 Census, Maryland grew in population by 9 percent since 2000, from 5,296,486 citizens to 5,773,552. But that growth wasn't enough to get Maryland another seat in the House of Representatives. Maryland is one of 32 states whose representation in the U.S. Congress didn't change.
States losing congressional seats include:
Ohio (-2), New York (-2), Illinois (-1), Iowa (-1), Louisiana (-1), Massachusetts (-1), Michigan (-1), Missouri (-1), New Jersey (-1) and Pennsylvania (-1).
States gaining congressional seats include:
Texas (+4), Florida (+2), Arizona (+1), Georgia (+1), Nevada (+1), South Carolina (+1), Utah (+1), and Washington (+1)
Still, the Maryland legislature and governor will redistrict the state to realign seats to population shifts within the state.
Since both the governor's seat and the legislature are controlled by Democrats, the party will have an opportunity to make some congressional seats more palatable for "blue" candidates.
One example is the 1st District, held for years by Republican Wayne Gilchrist. Gilchrist retired in 2007. In 2008, the seat was carried by a slim margin by Democrat Frank Kratovil. He served one term, then lost in the 2010 cycle to Republican Andy Harris.
The members of GRAC are scheduled to meet for the first time at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the governor's reception room. The five-member committee will set out a schedule of public hearings where they will listen to public comment and draft a plan for the state legislative and congressional remap.
A recent press release from the governor's office lists the members of GRAC as:
- Jeanne D. Hitchcock, who will serve as the chairperson of GRAC. Hitchock presently serves as Gov. O'Malley's Secretary of Appointments. Prior to joining the governor's office, she served as deputy mayor to then-Mayor O'Malley. While deputy m,ayor, Hitchcock was instrumental in the redistricting process that, for the first time, created single-member districts in Baltimore City. She also served as an assistant attorney general from 1980 to 1987.
- Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Maryland State Senate president since 1987, Miller has been a member of the Senate since 1975. Miller also served on the GRAC in 1991 and 2001. Miller represents District 27, which includes Calvert County and parts of Prince George's.
- Michael E. Busch, Maryland Speaker of the House since 2003, member of the House of Delegates since 1987. Busch represents District 30, which includes Annapolis, parts of Edgewater and the bay communities of Galesville and Shady Side.
- James King served as a member of the House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011 representing District 33A, which includes Severna Park, Millersville, Gambrills, Crofton and Davidsonville. King is a small business owner who employs more than 100 Maryland residents. Recently named Business Owner of the Year by the West County Chamber of Commerce. In 2008, King was named Taxpayers Advocate of the Year by the Maryland Taxpayers Association.
- Richard Stewart presently serves as president and chief executive officer of Montgomery Mechanical Services Inc. A member of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, Stewart has held positions as a board member, director and past-president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Metropolitan Washington. Stewart has been a member of the Maryland Stadium Authority since July 2007.
“I am honored to serve the residents of Maryland on the Redistricting Committee,” King said in the release. “It is imperative that the minority party have a voice in this extremely important process. The decisions and recommendations that the committee will offer will play a critical role in the make up of the state’s electoral process for the next decade. I look forward to bringing balance to this process.”
Typically, the GRAC would turn its recommendations over to the governor to prepare a plan and introduce it as a joint resolution to the General Assembly in January of 2012.
However, the upcoming presidential election in 2012 may make it necessary for the GRAC to complete its work early for a special session of the legislature in October.
"As we begin the redistricting process, I want to commend the governor for his selection of a diverse group of individuals who will keep the best interests of state voters central in their deliberations," Busch said in the release. "This process will be open and transparent and engage as many voters as possible, as we endeavor to craft new Congressional and legislative districts."
Each legislative district in Maryland consists of one senator and three delegates.
Throughout the process, the committee will be assisted by the Department of Legislative Services and the Department of Planning, according to the release.