The Maryland House of Delegates approved Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's congressional redistricting map Wednesday, the third day of a special session to redraw the districts of the state's eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The map, which Republicans decried as gerrymandering to oust a GOP congressman, is identical to a bill already passed by the Senate, except for some minor typographical errors. The Senate will have to approve those small technical changes to the bill before it goes to the governor for his signature.
The map reflects population growth in the suburbs of the nation's capital and up the Interstate 270 corridor, Democrats said. Delegate Adrienne Jones, D-Baltimore County, said 70 percent of the state's residents will reside in the same districts as under the current map.
“It was done very carefully, not willy-nilly,” Jones said. “It was done within the letter of the law, within the Voting Rights Act. It was done in consultation with the state attorney general who is the lawyer for the state.”
But Republicans said the map is designed to oust 10-term Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in western Maryland.
Republican Delegate Anthony O'Donnell, the House minority leader, also said Democratic incumbents had too much influence on telling state lawmakers how they wanted their districts drawn.
“This state is for the citizens of Maryland, not some individuals who are incumbents who want vanity districts drawn for them,” O'Donnell, R-Calvert, said.
The state's congressional districts are being redrawn in response to the 2010 census, which found suburban Maryland counties had the state's biggest population growth over the last decade. All of the state's population gain resulted from increases in minorities, according to the census.
Maryland currently has two congressional districts represented by African-Americans. Growth in the state's minority population prompted some, including Republicans, to seek a third majority-minority district in the state. The House rejected a Republican amendment that would have created a third majority-minority district.
"The redistricting plan passed in the Maryland House today is not the best approach for minority voters or for all Marylanders," said Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Prince George's, Montgomery. "Nonetheless, the legislative process in the General Assembly has run its course."