I’ve been predicting for a while that public wrath over the gerrymander would stir up Maryland politics not so much because of what Republicans do — they are a minority in the legislature and the Democratic leadership of Michael Miller and Michael Busch applies strict discipline to keep its majority in line on this issue — but because it hands a big issue to insurgent or independent Democrats who don’t have to worry as much about staying on those gentlemen’s good sides.
And that’s exactly what’s now happening in the battle for the open seat in MD-8, my own Congressional district. At the Democratic debate this past weekend in Frederick, self-financed businessman David Trone tore into fellow candidates Sen. Jamie Raskin and Del. Kumar Barve for voting for the map, which he called an “abomination.” To quote the Washington Post, Trone “scoffed at Raskin’s proposed solution — a regional reapportionment effort by Maryland and Virginia state legislators — as ‘silly’ and ‘a waste of time and rhetoric.’” Candidate Kathleen Matthews, who like Trone is running as a first-time candidate with some distance from the powers that be, was also critical of the map, calling it “the result of an old boys network protecting themselves.”
It’s no secret that Democrats’ own primary base includes large numbers of voters who loathe and despise the gerrymander. And a series of prominent mavericks, including Heather Mizeur and Donna Edwards, have vocally criticized the process and sometimes proposed far-reaching reforms. So the Democrats may be fated to see the infighting in their own party go on until they heed the public call for reform.
Links on the debate: Bill Turque/WP, Louis Peck/Bethesda Magazine. More links: Maryland Reporter, Phil Andrews/Baltimore Sun (opinion piece by former Montgomery County Council member), my House testimony (see 7:00), WBAL, Josh Bollinger, Easton Star-Democrat (Sen. Hershey: legislative leaders love to make state first in other areas, but this sure is an exception),. Earlier here, here, etc.