Republicans and a voters-rights advocacy group are rallying against an initial proposal to redraw the state’s legislative districts.
The plan, released Friday by the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory, calls for increasing from 10 to 12 the number of majority-black Senate districts and creating a majority-Hispanic district in Prince George’s County. But a spokesman for the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee said the plan does not do enough to provide adequate representation to blacks and other minorities.
Radamese Cabrera, a consultant who works for the PAC, called the plan “pure racism,” arguing the map should have as many as 14 majority-black districts to more accurately represent black Marylanders.
“We think that the ... proposal is a shame and a disgrace,” Cabrera said. “It clearly dilutes African-American voting strength of the state of Maryland.”
Republican Del. Michael Hough (R-Dist. 3B) of Brunswick is working on legislation to be introduced on behalf of his group that would create an alternate map, Cabrera said.
The PAC worked with Republicans to oppose Gov. Martin O’Malley’s congressional redistricting plan, passed by the legislature this year.
The group will testify at a public hearing on the plan scheduled for Thursday in Annapolis.
O’Malley (D) has until January to digest the committee’s recommended map and present his version to the legislature.
Cabrera said he hopes the governor will make significant changes to the committee’s map, and he thinks it favors white politicians by adjusting districts to ensure their re-election.
“To me this is clear,” Cabrera said. “There is no confusion in this map. This map is a map for incumbency protection of white Democratic males.”
Republicans also — and expectedly — decried the map.
State GOP Executive Director David A. Ferguson said he still is reviewing the map in detail, but is frustrated that committee Chairwoman and state planning Secretary Jeanne D. Hitchcock chose to releasee the map Friday evening after the weekday news cycle had ended.
“It was just he way it was done. They tried to do a late night, Friday data dump that was just unnecessary,” Ferguson said.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland want 14 majority-black districts.
Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Dist. 25) of Mitchellville, who is first vice chairwoman of the caucus, said caucus members will testify at Thursday’s hearing.
She also said she is concerned the proposed map divides communities in Prince George’s County, such as Lake Arbor and Woodmore.
Braveboy said she hopes O’Malley will consolidate those areas into single districts when completing his plan.
“I believe that there will be compelling evidence provided at the public hearing to suggest that the governor needs to reflect the growth more accurately of African Americans,” Braveboy said.