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November 13, 2008

The fathers -- and mothers -- of Democratic hegemony.

Baltimore Sun columnist Jean Marbella wrote a nice piece today telling the back-story of how Maryland's congressional delegation went from 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans in 2002 to its current 7 Democrat-1 Republican configuration.

She rightly credits Gov. Parris Glendening as the grandfather of the boundaries redrawn after the 2000 census. But it's worth mentioning a few other names.

-- Jennifer Crawford: The future Mrs. Glendening was the governor's deputy chief of staff during the redistricing process and was the key staffer in charge of moving election districts around and achieving the governor's partisan goals. For those in the State House at the time, the work product was sometimes referred to as "Jennifer's Maps." She's never spoken to the media about her role; we'd love to hear what she has to say on the topic. C'mon Jen: Gloat a little. There's a "comment space" just below!

-- Sushant Sidh: Sidh was young, but already had long experience working in congressional and gubernatorial campaigns. He was Crawford's assistant, and Glendening put him on the panel redrawing the lines. After stints with a nursing home company and Anne Arundel county government, he's now an Annapolis lobbyist with a lot of notches on his belt.

-- John Willis: Willis was named secretary of state when Glendening became governor and is arguably the most knowledgable person in Maryland about the history of political boundaries. Willis argued with a straight face to me and others why the ridiculous-looking boundaries of the 1st District (the latest Dem pick-up) as well as the equally silly 2nd and 3rd made perfect sense and were rooted in history and tradition. He can laugh now if he wants to, but knowing Willis, he's probably not laughing, but lecturing.

Posted by David Nitkin at 11:48 AM | | Comments (6)


Why don't you come out and just openly rejoice at this hegemony? Why dance around the issue and just say "we at the Baltimore Sun think that power sharing is bad and we thank the hideous gerrymandering of the Glendenning administration for this wonderful gift".


That's the exact opposite of what I think. There's a map at my desk of Maryland's congressional districts, and I blanche every time I look at it. I think the districts as drawn are very nearly a travesty. There's no excuse or legitimate argument for Baltimore County to have five different congressional districts in it, in a state that has eight districts in all. My personal belief is that one of the great needed reforms in the U.S. political system is to have all reapportionment done by non-partisan, independent panels -- not governors or legislatures -- that take into account geography and communities of interest more than the voter registration numbers in certain census tracts. How much better off would we be if there were 300 competitive congressional districts in the country rather than 60? How much more civil would the discourse be in Washington if there were fewer extremists? A lot, in my view.

Sorry for the vitriol, David. As a resident of the 2nd Congressional - I get pretty steamed about my district. We were home to two of the state's most influential politicians, Bob Ehrlich and Helen Bentley and the Republicans in the Baltimore area at least felt like they had a voice. I once showed a map of my district to a friend who worked for the Democrat Party in Virginia and he literally did not believe me. I had to go online to the house website for him to really believe how badly mangled my district had become. It's something else, isn't it?

It sure is something else. And the current districts become the foundation for reapportionment after the 2010 census. So things could get worse. I feel for y'all in Timonium. Seriously.


Nice post. Looks like you've worked out your spelling issues over the past couple years.

Indeed! With apologies to George W. Bush: "Fool me once...Won't get fooled again."

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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