TOWSON — Gov. Larry Hogan vowed Tuesday to veto gerrymandered redistricting maps and even challenge them in court.
Hogan, speaking to a group of business leaders and students at a breakfast meeting at Goucher College, renewed his call for fairly drawn maps.
“I don’t want to draw Republican districts or Democratic districts,” Hogan said. “I want fair districts. It’s one man, one vote. We want to make sure we elect a diverse group of folks to be our citizen representatives.”
Hogan, a Republican, has called for changes to how the state redraws maps every ten years after the census.
Maryland has frequently been held up as a poster child for the excesses of redrawing maps for political advantage. In the space of two redistricting cycles, Maryland’s maps have been contorted into fanciful shapes that changed a four-four split of Congressional seats into a seven-to-one advantage for Democrats.
That state’s 3rd Congressional District has been compared to blood spatter at a crime scene or an injured pterodactyl.
“It’s really an awful practice,” Hogan told attendees of the discussion sponsored by the college and the Greater Baltimore Committee.
Maryland is in the throes of two parallel redistricting processes involving congressional and state legislative maps. Two panels — one appointed by Hogan and another by the legislature — are holding public meetings and preparing maps.
Hogan’s role as governor is limited to state legislative redistricting, and then only to introduce a map at the start of the 2022 session. That panel could finalize its congressional and state maps this week.
Hogan portrayed his process as open while claiming that lawmakers — some of whom were sitting in the room Tuesday morning — collude behind closed doors.
“The legislature is in the dark recesses of Annapolis somewhere drawing secret maps no one has ever seen,” Hogan said. “It’s just not the way we should be going about it.”
The Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission has held eight public meetings around the state since August. The panel will hold five more through November, including Wednesday night in Owings Mills.
The General Assembly is expected to hold a special session in early December to take up the issue of congressional maps. The governor is not legally required to draft a plan but has traditionally done so.
Redrawing the state’s 47 legislative districts will wait until Hogan introduces his bill on the opening day of the 2022 session. The legislature may pass its own bill but must do so by the end of the session’s 45th day — otherwise, Hogan’s plan automatically becomes law.
Hogan may veto any plan sent to him. Democrats, however, hold a super majority in the House and Senate. Hogan has had little success in preventing the legislature from overriding his vetoes over both of his terms.
Still, the governor vowed to fight any poorly drawn districts — including by going to court.
“We’re going to fight to try to make sure we get fair districts,” Hogan said. “Hopefully we’ll get that done, and if not and the maps are really bad — right now we have the most gerrymandered maps in America — if something like that comes out of the legislature, I’ll certainly veto it, challenge it. We’ll take it to the highest court to make sure that doesn’t happen.”