A Maryland redistricting commission yesterday proposed new congressional district boundaries that would end the sharing of districts between Montgomery and Prince George's counties, while dramatically diluting the clout of the city of Baltimore.
The proposal, which differs only slightly from a preliminary plan drafted earlier this month, would shift the Montgomery County portion of Takoma Park into the district of Rep. Michael Barnes. Those neighborhoods, which include about 20,000 people, now lie in the district of Prince George's Rep. Steny Hoyer.
The proposed new boundaries, delivered yesterday to Gov. Harry Hughes, are the first stage in the redrawing of Maryland's eight congressional districts to reflect a population shift away from urban centers.
The commission on reapportionment and redistricting also proposed new state legislative district boundary lines for the city of Baltimore that would lead to the defeat of several incumbents, a move that has already mobilized opposition from several city politicians.
The congressional district plan shuffles portions of the Washington suburbs, which did not grow as fast as the booming suburbs beyond the Beltway, in a sort of domino pattern to bring the Prince George's and Montgomery districts close to the ideal size of 527,000 each.
The rolling northern portions of Montgomery County, starting at the Beltway and the Potomac River, would be moved northward, out of Barnes' 8th Congressional District and into the conservative Western Maryland district of Rep. Beverly Byron. Barnes, in turn, would gain the 20,000 residents in the Montgomery portion of Takoma Park, extending his district to the Prince George's boundary line.
To make up for the loss from Hoyer's 5th District, which already needed to gain 60,000 residents to reach the ideal size, the commission proposed shifting boundaries to take in the Andrews Air Force Base neighborhood and certain southern Prince George's areas that would put Hoyer's residence within his district for the first time.
The new Hoyer areas would be taken from the 4th District, home of Rep. Marjorie Holt, Maryland's only Republican member of Congress. Holt, who represents booming Anne Arundel County, would pick up the extreme southeastern portion of Howard County, including several hundred voters in Columbia.
In the Baltimore area, the predominantly Jewish neighborhoods along the city's northwest border, which have long been part of the suburban district of Rep. Clarence Long, would be shifted into the inner-city district of Rep. Barbara Mikulski, which lost more than 10 percent of its population in the last decade.