Franchot Calls For Changes To Redistricting Process
Comptroller says Maryland "is the poster child for gerrymandering" and urges voters to vote no on Question 5.
Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot said Monday he supports his party's candidates but that recent redistricting of Maryland's congressional is too heavy-handed.
"This map is way over the edge in terms of bare-knuckle politics," said Franchot.
"I'm a proud Democrat. I support Democrats. I just want it to be fair and not fixed," Franchot said, comparing the redistricting process to "Boss Tweed-style Chicago politics."
Franchot Tuesday called for an independent, non-partisan commission that would redraw the congressional and state legislative districts. The change would help restore faith in the political system, he said.
The comptroller said the districts should be more compact in order to provide voters with better representation. He singled out the 3rd Congressional District, represented by John Sarbanes, as a poorly drawn district.
"It looks like a pterodactyl laying on its back with it's wings spread," said Franchot, a Takoma Park resident.
But in an earlier interview on WBAL 1090 AM, Franchot said Sarbanes' district "looks like a whole bunch of blood thrown up on a wall."
The result of poorly drawn districts are candidates such as Wendy Rosen, whom Franchot called "a junior varsity candidate."
Rosen, a Democrat, withdrew from the 1st Congressional District race against Republican incumbent Rep. Andy Harris after it was discovered that she had voted in recent elections in both Maryland and Florida.
"She wasn't properly vetted," said Franchot.
Voters will get a chance to vote on the maps on Nov. 6.
Franchot said he will vote against Question 5, the congressional redistricting referendum, and is asking other voters to do the same.
Franchot's announcement was welcomed by group that was part of the effort to put the maps on the ballot.
"The announcement by Comptroller Franchot carries weight in demonstrating the non-partisan work of the petition and the referendum efforts to overturn a map that has been called the most gerrymandered in the entire country," said Tony Campbell, president of Marylanders for Coherent and Fair Representation and former chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee.
The comptroller was a member of the House of Delegates in 2002 when Gov. Parris Glendening created the current districts.
Franchot voted for the plan that resulted in a loss of Republican representation in Congress and effectively corralled most of the state's Republicans to the 1st and 6th Congressional districts.
Franchot called the district "a graveyard that no Democrat could run and win in."
Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, defended the redistricting plan and the process that created it.
"This map is based on the 2002 map and that has a [District] 2 and 3 that look very similar," said Guillory, adding that the redistricting commission hearing process is "a very long tedious process."
"This map passed the General Assembly and withstood several legal challenges," said Guillory. "This is the process and the process works."