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House approves Congressional map after rancorous debate

The Maryland state House
Joel McCord/WYPR
The Maryland state House

This report has been updated.

Maryland’s House of Delegates, meeting in special session this week, overwhelmingly approved a Congressional redistricting map Monday night that opponents charge is badly gerrymandered.

The 97-42 vote came after more than an hour of intense debate with Republicans sharply criticizing the map.

Del. Mark Fisher, a Calvert County Republican, compared it to the current map, which he said was “obscenely gerrymandered.” That’s cheating, he said.

“And cheating and gerrymandering combined, causes such extremism by electing officials who don't think they're ever going to lose no matter what they're going to do because they don't have competitive districts,”

Haven Shoemaker, a Carroll County Republican, complained that the eighth district, the one he lives in, runs from Lineboro, near the Pennsylvania line, to Potomac in Montgomery County on the District of Columbia line, communities that have little in the way of common interests.

“I’m here to tell you, gerrymandering, folks, whoever does it, whether it’s by my party or the other party, whether it occurs in red states or blue states, is wrong,” he said.

But Del. Jheanelle Wilkins, a Montgomery County Democrat, argued that the map reflects the increasing diversity of Maryland, where Black populations have grown in at least three of the districts.

“It sounds like we have a map here that although race is not a predominant factor, when it comes to redistricting here in our state, it's one that's upholding what we saw in the results and the diversity of the state of Maryland.”

Anne Healey, a Prince George's County Democrat who chaired the committee that approved this map, noted that despite all the criticism of the current map it was upheld by the courts, petitioned to referendum and “approved overwhelmingly by the voters of the state of Maryland.”

The map now goes to the Senate.

Joel McCord is a trumpet player who learned early in life that that’s no way to make a living.
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