Capital Op-Ed

Griffiths, Brian, Redistricting abuse reaches state level, April 5, 2018.

Snider Comment

“If opponents of gerrymandering truly want to do well by the people of Maryland and bring about long-lasting change, they will shift their focus from congressional redistricting to legislative redistricting.”

Well, the politics of legislative vs. congressional redistricting are more complicated than suggested here. Both Republican and Democratic legislators despise independent legislative redistricting, just like term limits, because they have a shared interest in incumbent entrenchment. The Governor knows this so emphasizes congressional redistricting because otherwise he’d alienate important Republican allies in the General Assembly with whom he has to do business in order to be an effective governor. If Maryland ends up with “independent” legislative redistricting, we will most likely just substitute pro-incumbent for partisan gerrymanders (a bi-partisan independent redistricting commission would simply function as a pro-incumbent redistricting commission). Many might hale that as an improvement over the status quo, but I am not convinced. Anyone who advocates for independent redistricting in Maryland, including the Governor, should be asked to clarify their position on pro-incumbent gerrymanders.