Redistricting for Maryland’s eight representatives in the U.S. House is the main focus of a special session of the General Assembly that began Monday.
A special session is mandated every 10 years after a census.
Gov. Martin O'Malley submitted a map redrawing the congressional districts based on the recommendations of a commission that held statewide hearings, but Rep. Donna Edwards, of the 4th District, which consists of parts of Prince George's and Montgomery counties, feels it's unfair to add parts of conservative a Anne Arundel County to her district.
The county executives in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties testified in support of the governor’s map.
"One of the things I've heard throughput the count as I've gone around and talked to people about this is they want to make sure Prince George's County is concentrated in two Congressional districts,” Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said. “This map does that."
“I can say without hesitation that there are a number of people -- Republicans, Democrats and independents -- who are not happy about being treated as chess pieces or voting peasants,” said Mykel Harris of the Prince George’s County Republican Committee.
The governor refuted a statement that his map treats minorities like pawns in the electoral process.
"I think the response to that is found in the vast majority of others who have looked at this map and found it to be fair and balanced,” he said.
Maryland has six Democrats and two Republicans in Congress. Redistricting may allow Democrats to win one of the two Republican seats.
"That's the purpose of why we’re here is to go after Congressman Roscoe Bartlett,” Republican Sen. Nancy Jacobs said.
Opponents to the governor’s map could challenge it in court if it is approved. That could delay the state’s presidential primary, scheduled for April 3.
The special session also will hold hearings to explore job creating opportunities, which O’Malley calls priority number one, and same-sex marriage advocates are lobbying lawmakers for their support for the bill when it is reintroduced next year.