Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed Sophia Marjanovic’s quote to the Rev. Janelle Bruce.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will not push for national redistricting reform because he prefers advancing his own legislation, designed to end gerrymandering in the state, a spokesman said Wednesday.
Hogan was responding to a letter sent to him by Maryland’s seven Democratic members of Congress, asking him to serve as “a forceful advocate” for a national effort to mandate a nonpartisan redistricting process.
“We believe that any real reform effort must be national and bipartisan,” the letter said.
The letter noted that several members of Congress from Maryland have co-sponsored federal legislation that would require independent commissions to draw voting boundaries in every state, and the lawmakers asked Hogan, who has called for such a commission in Maryland, to join forces with them. The letter suggested Hogan could make a pitch for the cause this weekend at the National Governors Association’s winter meeting.
Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer said national redistricting reform is not a realistic solution.
“The governor has recognized this as a bipartisan problem, but waiting for other states and groups of people to do the right thing is not what Governor Hogan is going to do,” Mayer said. “Marylanders should do the right thing alone if need be.”
Democrats in the state legislature, who hold strong majorities in both chambers, have resisted the governor’s proposals for an independent redistricting commission. They say such changes should apply to all states, including those widely considered to be gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. The state’s congressional representatives also have not expressed support for Hogan’s bills.
“It is unsurprising that some of these congressmen from Maryland are unwilling to support the governor’s efforts to end gerrymandering, since several of them could possibly lose their seats or actually have to compete for them,” Mayer said.
Critics of Maryland’s current voting map, approved in 2011, say state officials drew the lines to help Democrats gain control of all but one of Maryland’s eight congressional seats; they previously controlled six. Many say the lines were manipulated to help unseat then-Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R), a 10-term incumbent who lost to Democrat John Delaney in 2012.
The map is currently being challenged in court.
Delaney signed the letter to Hogan, joining Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, John Delaney, Anthony G. Brown and Jamie B. Raskin.
Former governor Martin O’Malley, who oversaw the state’s last redistricting effort, has recently called for nonpartisan redistricting, as well, even as he acknowledged that as governor he backed the politicized process that favored the state’s majority party.
The letter to Hogan, who has sky-high approval ratings in Maryland, is one of the latest examples of Democrats and liberal advocacy groups pressuring the governor to weigh in on national issues, often by demanding that he take stands against President Trump.
On Wednesday, three activists crashed a Board of Public Works hearing headed by Hogan, calling on him to oppose Trump administration actions that they say will harm health care, immigrants, refugees and women.
“I am concerned that under the Trump administration, women are going to be treated badly in this country, and you’re not going to stand up for us,” said Sophia Marjanovic, 42, of Rockville.
Hogan insisted that he has stood up for constituents’ interests “every single day” as governor.
“I think the people elected me to do a job here in Maryland, which we’re focused on,” he said. “I didn’t run for president, and they didn’t hire me to protest every day against everything that happens in Washington.”