I’d like to write a few words just to salute first-term Maryland delegate Gabriel Acevero (D-19; Germantown, Montgomery Village), someone whose politics differ widely from mine. I knew Del. Acevero’s name because last year he took a principled stand at likely cost to himself. Now he’s gone and done that again.
This week, Del. Acevero was the only Democrat in the Maryland legislature to vote against the leadership’s super-gerrymandered map of Congressional seats. He saw the principle of the thing.
You might guess that Del. Acevero would get primaried over that. But here’s the thing: he’s already being primaried in his three-member District 39 following the principled thing he did last year.
In 2020 Del. Acevero led the fight to repeal Maryland’s very bad police-tenure law, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. His day job, however, was with MC-GEO, a powerful public employee union that represents some LEOs. It fired him.
In the event, LEOBR was modified, though not repealed. Meanwhile, a VP of the union that fired Acevero, MC-GEO, is running in his district, and the union says it’s “all in” on supporting the candidacy of its officer, who’s run before.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next to Del. Acevero in electoral politics. But I do know that at age 31, he’s already taken more meaningful stands on principle than many lawmakers get around to taking in their whole careers.
I’ve been absent from blogging here since the summer in order to concentrate on my duties concerning the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, the nine-member panel charged with recommending maps for Gov. Hogan to propose for redrawing Congressional and legislative lines. That job will continue for a while, but the commission has now proposed to the public all three of its maps — Congressional, state senate, and delegate — and you can check them out here or use a viewer that allows zooming down to the street level. Public comment continues for a couple more weeks and the commission will consider altering lines to reflect public reaction and comments, as it has already done in several areas.
I joined host Dan Sally last month at the nonpartisan You Don’t Have To Yell podcast for a discussion of gerrymandering and redistricting in Maryland and other states. You can listen here.
Mostly links from before the pandemic crisis hit:
- Richard Vatz: To have passed the extravagantly expensive Kirwan education bill, with the handwriting already on the wall as to the state’s looming fiscal crisis, “is revelatory of the utter irresponsibility of Maryland’s lawmakers.” [Bryan Renbaum, Maryland Reporter]
- Montgomery County SWAT team shot Duncan Socrates Lemp in his home, and questions won’t go away [Jim Bovard/American Conservative, C.J. Ciaramella/Reason]
- “Maryland Charges Big Fines for Skipping Small Tolls” [Meg Tully, Maryland Reporter]
- Happy to get a request from Pennsylvania to reprint and distribute my chapter on redistricting and gerrymandering found on pp. 293-299 of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers (2017). Check it out;
- Senator Michael Hough (R-Frederick, Carroll) proposes limiting lawmakers to 20 introductions of general bills in a session [Danielle Gaines, Maryland Matters]
- Eastern Shore educators, fellow students unprepared as mental illness, violence mainstreamed into everyday classrooms [Mike Detmer, Dorchester Star, Bryan Renbaum, Maryland Reporter (Del. Kathy Szeliga, R-Baltimore and Harford, urges legislative action)]
Democratic lawmakers in Annapolis have filed a “Potomac Compact for Fair Representation” bill, HB 182, the gist of which is to say that Maryland can go on gerrymandering until Virginia agrees to coordinate on reform. Sorry to break it to you, guys, but have you noticed that the Virginia reform ship is sailing all by itself?
P.S. Kind of related: a Pennsylvania lawmaker talks frankly about how the leadership in state legislatures use the gerrymandering power, with its discretion to dole out a good district or impose a bad, to arm-twist maverick lawmakers into submission:
Boscola [Democratic state Sen. Lisa Boscola of Northampton County] said that because legislative leaders control the process, they can change the shape of districts to increase or decrease an incumbent’s chances of reelection.
Boscola, a senator for 18 years, served two terms in the House. There, she said, the threat of gerrymandering was used against her.
“I was told by my leadership in the House that I better behave and toe my party line, or I’d be out of my district,” she said.
I participated as both a speaker and a panelist in the November event “Getting It Right: Weighing the Options for Reform,” hosted by Fair Districts PA in Harrisburg. You can watch here.
I joined News Director Mark Kraham of western Maryland’s WDVM on “Issues and Insiders” to discuss gerrymandering and the Sixth District. You can watch on two video clips, from before and after the break.