Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) is breaking with other Democrats again over redistricting, saying she’s open to an independent commission proposed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
“I have long supported redistricting reforms to end the damage partisan gerrymandering does to our democracy,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing Governor Hogan’s announcement to see whether it is truly independent of partisan politics.”
All but one of Maryland’s eight congressional districts are held by Democrats, thanks in part to boundaries drawn by Democratic leadership after the 2010 Census. Hogan is creating an 11-member panel to recommend a new process. The Maryland Democratic Party says the lines shouldn’t be redrawn until there’s nationwide agreement on reform.
Edwards, as she has in the past, disagreed with her fellow Democrats.
“It’s not going to change the balance in the state,” Edwards said of redistricting reform in an interview Thursday, given Maryland’s overwhelmingly Democratic population, “but it will be fairer to people.”
At the same time, she said, any new process should take into account contiguity and minority representation.
Her Democratic primary opponent in the race for Maryland’s open Senate seat, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, took a more cautious line. He told Hogan he was “open to reviewing your proposal,” but echoed his fellow Democrats in saying “it makes more sense to have one set of nonpartisan rules for the entire country rather than a state-by-state approach.”
Edwards noted that her opposition to the Maryland political map drawn by Democrats in 2011 is “no secret.” She said at the time that the map disadvantaged minority voters by dividing Montgomery County into three districts represented by white men. Democratic critics, who attacked her for discussing maps with Republicans, said her real concern was keeping her own district safe.
Van Hollen, a former state lawmaker with close ties to Democrats in Annapolis, went along with that plan although it also carved up his district.
A February Goucher College poll found that the vast majority of Marylanders — 72 percent — would prefer independent redistricting.