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Bartlett, Van Hollen, O’Malley meet about redistricting

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Martin O’Malley met Thursday night with the two congressmen whose districts are seeing the biggest changes under a proposed congressional redistricting plan: Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in western Maryland and Democratic Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, whose district is in the suburbs of the nation’s capital.

O’Malley said both men discussed alternative plans.

“I think accurate to say that both of them had alternative suggestions, and both of them want to retain as many of their traditional citizens and neighborhoods that they’ve served for the last 10 years, and that was a common theme for both of them,” the governor said.

O’Malley said he will consider the suggestions.

Bartlett, who has held the 6th congressional district in western Maryland since 1993, described the meeting as cordial. When asked about any recommendations specific to his district, he said he spoke to O’Malley about concerns minority groups have expressed about the redistricting process in three districts in the central part of the state. Those concerns, he said, have big implications for the state’s other congressional districts.

“We chatted with him about some map changes that we believe will resolve the concerns that different groups have,” Bartlett said after the meeting with the governor. “He promised to seriously look at our suggestions, and we hope that he will do that and avoid the delays that will be caused by suits if a redistricting map is voted that does not satisfy the needs of these several groups.”

Van Hollen, who represents the state’s 8th congressional district in Montgomery County, did not provide many details about his meeting with the governor.

“We had a good meeting,” said Van Hollen, who met first with O’Malley. “We were just discussing the congressional redistricting plan and sharing some thoughts.”

A draft plan released this week by the governor’s advisory panel on redistricting moves a large portion of Van Hollen’s current district in Montgomery County into the western Maryland district now held by Bartlett. The change makes it more competitive for a Democratic candidate to run in Bartlett’s district. The plan also would move Van Hollen’s district into significant portions of Frederick and Carroll counties.