From Krist Boardman:
Surprise! I am supporting Delegate Kathy Szeliga and Governor Larry Hogan in their legislative effort to form a non-partisan commission to address the gerrymandering mess that is in Maryland politics. This comes from a Democrat (me) who is a member of the Harford County Democratic Central Committee (I am not speaking for them!). If you look at the First, Second and Third Congressional Districts in Maryland, you will see how shamefully those districts have been gerrymandered.
The conventional wisdom is that gerrymandering is done to put the minority party at a disadvantage as the Republicans are in Maryland, and as Democrats are now in many Southern states. Why politicians of any stripe should try to change voting results by twisting districts into unrecognizable pretzels tells us more about them and their true disregard for the voters than it does about anything. My theory though is that gerrymandering is done as much to thwart challengers of incumbents of the same party as it is done to thwart the minority party. I can say this as I was a challenger and lost to Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger in the primaries of 2006 and 2010, first based on my opposition to the Iraq War and next as an opponent of the Afghanistan War. The power of and monies of incumbents plus the gerrymandering which makes it nearly impossible to determine where the districts actually are when campaigning makes it difficult for voters to have meaningful choices in this kind of system and in the case of recent history allows the perpetuation of terrible and costly foreign wars that Mr. Ruppersberger has never opposed. So I give great credit to Gov. Hogan and Del. Szeliga for attempting to right this wrong. Gerrymandering is beneath contempt as it is more about retaining power than giving the voters and taxpayers a true say in their own public affairs.
As a candidate in the Second District I was outraged at how gerrymandered that is, but the Third District represented by Rep. John Sarbanes is even worse. In the First District Rep. Andy Harris who lives in Hunt Valley or Cockeysville, represents all of the Eastern Shore counties. Isn’t that a disgrace? Of course I blame the Republicans such as former Gov. Bob Ehrlich for ousting Kent County Republican Wayne Gilchrest because Gilchrest was too much of an environmentalist for Ehrlich; and what does Andy Harris care about the environment on the Eastern Shore anyway since he has too many other causes such as abolishing affordable health care and he doesn’t live there?
There are many, many more examples of how gerrymandering has corrupted the process and turned voters off. You need only look at state and county legislative districts and see how they are drastically manipulated and also listen to some legislators’ stories to realize how bad this problem has gotten.
Some Democrats are resisting this effort to correct gerrymandering by saying that it shouldn’t be done until Republican-led gerrymandering in the South is undone, but that’s not right either. Why is it okay to subvert the voters’ will in this state just because it is being subverted in other states? Of course it should be corrected in the South but if it can be done here sooner then it should be.
I’m no fan of President Trump but what he says about the system being “rigged” could easily be applied to gerrymandering.
I know my Democratic Party “friends” will likely rebuke me for taking this position but they are wrong. Public servants are to serve the public. I hope more Democrats will support the Hogan-Szeliga measure and make fair elections a reality in Maryland, the sooner the better.