Thursday, October 6, 2011

Maryland Congressional Redistricting Winners & Losers // Plus, U.S. Senate Battle, Round One: Sarbanes

UPDATE: Maryland Juice forgot to mention one other major "loser" in the redistricting process: former CD1 Rep. Frank Kratovil. Other than Mr. Bartlett, the former Democratic Congressman potentially had the most at stake in the mapmaking process. The good news is, The Washington Post reports he is now applying for a judicial vacancy. Maryland Juice wishes Mr. Kratovil luck in his quest to become Judge Kratovil.

As Maryland Juice reflects upon the evolution of the State's 2012 Congressional Districts, a few new and important storylines are becoming apparent -- especially after talking to a few inside sources. Early on, the story was simply about whether Democrats would target Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (CD6), Rep. Andy Harris (CD1) or both. I always suspected things were headed towards a CD6-only strategy, but that meant the real debate was/is about how (not whether) to draw a 7-1 map targeting CD6.

Judging by the ultimate outcome, I think others must have been looking at this situation the same way. I am basing this on the fact that more than anything else, the finite number of variables leading us to the particular 7-1 map chosen, seem to reveal an advantage (whether intentional or not) for current CD3 Rep. John Sarbanes. Indeed, the new CD3 has exciting boundaries for any ambitious, hardworking Democrat -- it gives Mr. Sarbanes a reason and an opportunity to build an active political network in the Democratic population centers of Montgomery County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City, as well as in the influential counties of Howard and Anne Arundel. It also gives Mr. Sarbanes exposure in the key Democratic media markets of the D.C. and Baltimore suburbs. See the new Congressional maps with CD3 highlighted in red. I also colored MoCo and B'more City in yellow, so that you can see the reach of the new CD3.

Why does any of this matter? Because Rep. J.P. Sarbanes is also the son of former U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes, and by some measures he is currently leading the nation for Democratic fundraising. I hope you're reading between the lines here. Mr. Sarbanes, along with almost all of Maryland's U.S. House Democrats, is a likely competitor for an open U.S. Senate seat (whenever one should materialize).

At first I thought this perspective on redistricting might just be my imagination, but after talking to a few knowledgeable redistricting sources, others have been wondering the same thing. Indeed, there never seemed to be a real question about whether one could draw a competitive CD6. Back in March, Maryland Politics Watch's David Lublin published such a map. Already, famed political oddsmaker Charlie Cook has placed the previously R+13 CD6 into the Republican's top-eleven most endangered GOP "Toss-Ups".

No wonder that Maryland's newly protected CD1 GOP Rep. Andy Harris had only this to say about the new boundaries (according to The Sun): "'My main request was that the Eastern Shore be left intact,' Harris said. And it was, he said." In fact, Mr. Harris probably had the most to gain by rumors circulating of a Democratic 7-1 map targeting only GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. No wonder that such a map leaked early in the process to the right-leaning Maryland Reporter.

So back to my original point. Since there are a few ways of creating a 7-1 attack on CD6, doesn't the path chosen by the Redistricting Commission represent the first stage in the looming U.S. Senate showdown? I think so, and I think Round One goes to Rep. Sarbanes.

So now Maryland Juice has only one question about this map: What % of Maryland's Democratic primary electorate resides in each of the new U.S. House Districts?
For example, CD1 and CD8 may have the exact same number of people (as required by law at the start of a new redistricting), but that doesn't mean each Congressional District has the same number of Democrats. In fact, without even seeing the data tables, I can tell you that it is almost guaranteed that the Montgomery-based CD8 will have thousands more Democrats (who actually vote in primary elections) than CD1, which includes the GOP-rich Eastern Shore. Once again, if anyone has access to the data tables, please leak here:
Here was one redistricting expert's reaction to the new maps:

Winners: Baltimore, John Sarbanes:
Baltimore, despite losing population, keeps control of half the state's congressional seats.  Apparently, it doesn't matter how far Baltimore's population drops or how much the DC suburbs grow, Baltimore still rules Maryland.

Sarbanes gains new exposure in Montgomery and Howard counties, plus expands to cover Annapolis and a big swath of Anne Arundel County.  He's already got Baltimore and Baltimore County covered.  Can you say statewide run?
Losers: Montgomery County, Chris Van Hollen, Donna Edwards
Montgomery County, despite population growth, trades Donna Edwards for Rob Garagiola.  If Bartlett somehow holds on to this seat, it's a horrible deal.  While Sarbanes will represent a slice of MoCo, my fear is he will pay little attention to the County and its issues, because it's a small piece of his district overall. 
While Sarbanes gains new exposure to important Democratic constituencies, and the 6th gets the Democratic pockets in Frederick to help Garagiola, Van Hollen gets rural Republican voters in Frederick and Carroll Counties. Donna Edwards loses her fanatical Montgomery County base and may be vulnerable to a primary challenge, more likely in 2014 than 2012. Let's be clear:  both the winners and losers were not accidental.   
Remember folks, the excerpt above was written by an anonymous source, not Maryland Juice. But I have gleaned a few other tidbits about the redistricting process:
  1. Rep. Steny Hoyer wanted to keep College Park in his District no matter what. That means that any redistricting would have to include a CD5 with College Park/Prince George's somehow included. Note how that reduces the options for re-ordering Rep. Donna Edwards' CD4.
  2. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger insisted on having a few specific military installations in his District, due to the subject matter of his House committee assignments. That also limited options.
  3. One upshot to the new CD3 boundaries, is that some have noted population growth will ultimately make it inevitable that CD3 mushrooms into a 3rd Montgomery anchored District in the 2020 redistricting. How many days until the 2022 Democratic Primary?
The other obvious reactions to Maryland redistricting to note are the predictable Republican complaints. But that's not an interesting story! As more details emerge, we'll keep you posted.


  1. Just as a quick point, CD3 already had Annapolis. The new district took some more conservative parts of Anne Arundel county away from him and brought him into Montgomery.

    I find the rest of your analysis spot on.

  2. Too bad John is nothing like his father. He comes across as an arrogant elitist. Senator Paul Sarbannes was a humble public servant.