As some regular DKE folks may know, I am a (lonely) advocate for retrocession as the solution to the reprehensible disenfranchisement of the District of Columbia. I attend university just miles into Prince George's County across the state line; I currently work part-time in downtown Washington, D.C. To my way of thinking, D.C. is just too small to be a state, but it's too big and too integral to the United States to just be its own weird thing with a city government handcuffed to Congress and the federal court system and a delegate in the House of Representatives who doesn't get to vote.
In the mid-19th century, land across the Potomac River originally incorporated into the District of Columbia was retroceded to the Commonwealth of Virginia. This land is modern-day Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. I think a noble solution to the D.C. voting rights conundrum, which has been exacerbated by Republican fears of Democrats adding two new members to the Senate, is the retrocession of the District's remaining territory to the state of Maryland, there to be incorporated as the City of Washington (or Washington City) in much the same way as the similarly sized City of Baltimore (often called Baltimore City to distinguish it from Baltimore County) is separate from the 23-county system.
This fix has been predictably held up by political elites in both Baltimore and D.C. who don't want their power diluted by the other. Many D.C. voting rights advocates are too proud to consider an alternative to statehood, and many Baltimoreans are wary of the rising influence of the D.C. suburbs and fear the retrocession of D.C. itself would cause a polar shift in the power base of the state, long ensconced in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
I am ignoring these issues because this diary is about fantasy redistricting, not real redistricting. In this fantasy world, everyone has worked it out and retrocession is copacetic. So we're not going to talk about how it will never happen, or how another alternative is so much better, or any of that stuff. This is the wrong diary for all of that. Okay? Okay.
Here is the map. I will tell you up front that it is drawn to be an 8-1. It's possible to get a 9-0, but both the VRA and the concerns of current D.C. residents would probably have to be shredded in the process, and a few Baltimore-area congressmen might have to take a hit as well. In my rundown of the districts, I'm going to go a little bit out of order, because one of the districts is numbered really weirdly.
Let us sing.
MD-01 (blue): Rep. Andy Harris (R-Cockeysville) - 39% Obama, 59% McCain
Here's the 1. As in Maryland's 2011 congressional redistricting, Harris gets a nice fat vote sink, which actually looks pretty similar to the district he'll be running in this November. It's the Eastern Shore plus deep-red northern Baltimore, Carroll, and Harford counties. This will dilute the powerful vote of the comically dedicated racists of Carroll County and may head off a diabolical, bizarrely well organized effort by them to primary Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and replace him with a Demosaur. Foiled again! Safe Republican.
MD-02 (green): Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Cockeysville) - 58% Obama, 39.9% McCain
The popular Baltimore County congressman sees some slight weakening, dropping from ~60% Obama to 58% Obama on the nose, but he retains what is actually a fairly compact district with a relatively contiguous political base. With Baltimore County, long dominated by the Republican Party, trending blue (Bob Ehrlich barely won it in his embarrassingly ill-fated comeback attempt against Gov. Martin O'Malley in 2010), the pieces are in place for Ruppersberger to hold this seat for as long as he wants it, and to pass it on to a mainstream Democrat after that. Safe Democratic with Ruppersberger, Likely Democratic without Ruppersberger.
MD-03 (purple): Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Towson) - 57.8% Obama, 40.3% McCain
Sarbanes does get the weakest Democratic district on the map, but it's in relative terms. Then-Sen. Barack Obama pulverized Sen. John McCain here in the 2008 presidential race, beating him by a 17.5-point margin. Sarbanes would have to morph into a drooling idiot in order to lose a district like this, especially with the Maryland Democratic establishment behind him and the Baltimore Democratic machine always ready to kick into high gear at election time. On that note, this district actually sheds quite a bit of Baltimore City, spreading its tendrils as far and wide as the Washington suburb of Olney in Montgomery County and the Annapolis suburbs on Kent Island in Queen Anne's County. This district will provide a fairly safe "trial by fire" for Sarbanes, who has been not-so-subtly groomed as a future U.S. senator in the stead of his father, Paul Sarbanes. As an added bonus, followers of demographic shifts in the United States will note that Howard County's minority population has exploded in recent years, meaning this district is likely to move leftward if the trend holds. Safe Democratic with Sarbanes, Likely Democratic without Sarbanes.
MD-07 (orange): Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore) - 73.3% Obama, 25.3% McCain [51.3% black majority]
I should note at this point I am using VAP (18+) numbers for racial stats, as favored by most (if not all) courts that have heard VRA cases in recent years. So, that accounts for a bit of this district's observed drop in black population. Some of the rest is attributable to slower growth in Baltimore City than in the state at large. The rest is because I deliberately unpacked Cummings's district for the benefit of Ruppersberger and Sarbanes, his fellow Baltimore-area congressmen. This district remains black-majority, however, which should proof it against any VRA lawsuits. It also remains fairly compact and anchored by west Baltimore, which should suit Cummings just fine. Safe Democratic.
MD-04 (red): Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Fort Washington) - 76.8% Obama, 22.2% McCain [53.1% black majority]
It's hard to say how Edwards would react to getting a district like this. Mere months ago, Edwards was seen as the paragon of selflessness, of commitment to the progressive cause at all costs. Now her image has been tainted somewhat by her failed attempt to torpedo the Democrat-controlled redistricting process last fall, though it appears she's been given a bye this year with the surprise last-minute decision by Glenn Ivey to
run for attorney general in 2014 instead not mount a primary challenge to her. And the action in this district, under the 2011 lines or under these fantasy lines, would have been all in the primary; this district would never fall into the hands of Team Red without a "Dollar Bill"-style scandal. Back to my original point: Edwards might be satisfied to get a corner of Montgomery County, where it abuts the tri-county Laurel area, after fighting to retain her turf in its wealthy, heavily Democratic suburbs in last year's often-acrimonious round of redistricting. She would also probably like to shed many socially conservative, mostly black suburbs in central Prince George's County that comprised then-Rep. Al Wynn's base in the 2006 and 2008 primaries. But she would also have to deal with new constituents in Anacostia and Calvert County (which is, as you'll know if you are familiar with the area, about the most bizarre combination ever), and that's a bit of a wildcard. I think Edwards would be fine here, but then again, I generally think her noisy, attention-grabbing complaints about nothing are just that. Safe Democratic.
MD-05 (yellow): Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Mechanicsville) - 74.4% Obama, 24.8% McCain [52.9% black majority]
Does Hoyer, who demolished touted Republican adversary Charles Lollar in 2010 by a 30-point spread, really need an even safer district? Not really, no. But this district is designed with a Maryland after Hoyer in mind. While Hoyer is well-known, well-respected, and well-connected enough to probably hold this seat against any primary challengers without incident, once this is an open seat, it would be prohibitively likely to elect a black representative. And it would not be Charles Lollar. Safe Democratic.
MD-06 (sienna): Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Buckeystown) - 59.8% Obama, 38.7% McCain
Poor old Bartlett got the screws put to him in last year's redistricting, and this map would treat him even worse. While the ~56.5% Obama district O'Malley's people drew for Bartlett (well, really for State Sen. Rob Garagiola, a Democratic ally of the impressively named Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.) is potentially winnable for the octogenarian incumbent if the stars align for him, this district where Obama romped by more than 20 points is safely put away for Garagiola or whoever else the Democrats want. I made sure to include Garagiola's residence of Germantown inside the lines here. My educated guess is that Garagiola would run in this district and crush Bartlett or whoever else the Republicans send up to defend the seat. Safe Democratic.
MD-08 (teal): Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Kensington) - 58.3% Obama, 40% McCain
After initially responding to draft redistricting proposals diluting his heavily Democratic district by making little noises that sounded like a small dog whose favorite chew toy got taken away, Van Hollen mysteriously decided to step up and be Mr. Team Player, not that it had anything to do with his speculated-upon House leadership ambitions, possible statewide potential, or the prospect of O'Malley "remembering" him if he's the 45th (or, God forbid, 46th) President of the United States this time 261 weeks from now, I'm sure. This map would weaken him by just another three and a half points or so. The thing is, the same thing that's happening in Baltimore and Howard counties wherein they are trending the Democrats' way is happening on anabolic steroids in Montgomery County. Once a stronghold of moderate, Northeastern-style Republicanism, the county has transformed over the past decade into an ultra-diverse, ultra-liberal bastion of the Democratic Party. With its population continuing to swell, Van Hollen is unlikely to run into any serious opposition here. Even in his district's weakened state under the 2011 lines, the most impressive challengers he appears to have drawn this year are a right-wing author named Kenneth Timmerman, who mounted a quixotic and wholly unsuccessful Senate bid in 2000, and a businessman named Dave Wallace, best known for placing a distant fourth out of four in a primary election for a House of Delegates seat in Carroll County two years ago. Republicans just have no real organization in Montgomery County, and they would seriously need that to have a shot here. Safe Democratic.
MD-09 (magenta): Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington) - 88.5% Obama, 10.5% McCain [37.8% black plurality]
Overkill? Yeah, probably. Almost definitely, actually. But I think that in a retrocession scenario, it would be a political necessity to preserve a community-of-interest seat anchored by Washington City and drawn specifically for Norton, whose nonvoting delegate status would very likely give way to full representative status under these lines. While black voters do not comprise a majority of the registered electorate in this district, they represent a significant plurality, and this district would be likely to elect a black representative whether Norton runs or not. Safe Democratic.
So there you have it: what would appear to be a pretty solid 8-1 with the District of Columbia folded into Maryland. I would have a partisan-colors map, but I've spent several hours on this tonight already and I kind of just want to finish up last night's episode of "The Colbert Report", maybe watch an episode or two of the third season of "The West Wing", and go to bed with an eye on waking up absolutely no earlier than 10:30 a.m.