Redistricting reform is among Gov. Larry Hogan’s priority issues. On numerous occasions, he has called for a nonpartisan process for redrawing the state’s congressional districts, which he says are some of the most gerrymandered in the country.
But at a press conference Monday afternoon, he said the bill the General Assembly passed this year is not what he had in mind.
“Instead of choosing fairness and real, nonpartisan reform, they pushed through a phony bill masquerading as redistricting reform,” he said.
He vetoed the bill on the spot.
The measure tied efforts to redraw Maryland’s eight congressional districts to whether Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey all agreed to create a similar independent commission to redraw their districts.
The goal wasn’t to wait for the other states, but to push them to also create fair districts, said Sen. Craig Zucker, a Democrat from Montgomery County who sponsored the bill.
“Maryland is a leader on redistricting, and we want other states to follow our lead,” Zucker said.
In a written statement, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, both Democrats, said the bill would have helped “fix a broken Congress.” They said Hogan’s veto came from a desire to “elect more Republicans to Congress.”
Hogan said something similar about the Democrats who voted for the bill.
“The legislative leaders who pushed this bill chose to completely ignore the will of the people of Maryland for the sole purpose of protecting themselves and their own partisan political interests,” he said.
According to the most recent Goucher Poll, 73 percent of Marylanders favor districts that are set by an independent commission, rather than by their elected officials.
Zucker’s bill passed both of the General Assembly’s chambers with enough votes to override a veto. It’s not clear whether the legislative leaders will hold an override vote when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
The legislature has rejected Hogan’s own redistricting reform proposals for the last two years.