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O’Malley Releases Congressional Redistricting Map

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley unveiled his congressional redistricting map Saturday, avoiding significant changes to an advisory panel plan that maintains two black-majority districts and targets a veteran Republican House member.

The O’Malley administration made the map available on the Maryland Department of Planning’s website. O’Malley will formally submit the map to the Legislature on Monday for a special session.

“After serious consideration and a review of all input from citizens across the state and discussions with members of our Congressional delegation and the General Assembly, I will be submitting a proposed map, substantially similar to the map developed by the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee, for consideration during the start of the special session on Monday,” O’Malley said in a statement early Saturday evening.

The map restores some of the current 6th Congressional district and some of the 8th Congressional district. But Joseph Bryce, O’Malley’s chief legislative officer, described the changes as marginal.

“If you held them up side-by-side, I doubt you would be able to pick the changes,” Bryce told reporters after a meeting of the Black Legislative Caucus, which met to discuss the map.

Some of the biggest changes to Maryland’s congressional map proposed by the governor’s advisory committee were made to the 6th and 8th Congressional districts. The 6th district has been held by U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican, since 1993. The changes are expected to make the district more competitive for a Democrat. The 8th district is represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen.

Democrats hold a 6-2 advantage over Republicans in Maryland’s U.S. House delegation.

The advisory panel also recommended significant changes to the 4th Congressional district, which is held by U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards. The change eliminates Montgomery County from the congresswoman’s district, and she contended last week that the map doesn’t adequately represent minorities. Edwards, a Democrat, is one of two African-American representatives in Maryland’s congressional delegation. U.S. Rep.Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, is the other African-American.

Critics of the advisory panel’s recommended map have argued that the growth of Maryland’s minority population over the past decade means that the state should have three majority-minority congressional districts. But that could have meant significant changes to the districts of Democratic incumbents such as U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, a member of the House Democratic leadership.

Edwards discussed her concerns before the state’s Legislative Black Caucus in Annapolis.

The caucus delayed a vote on whether to support the plan until Monday.

“I think the ultimate goal is just to make sure there’s African-American representation, and I think that this map addresses that, but there are some concerns about certain areas,” said state Sen. Catherine Pugh, a Baltimore Democrat who is the caucus chairwoman. She added that she wasn’t taking a position on the map yet.

Maryland’s congressional districts are being redrawn to conform with population changes in the 2010 census. Supporters of the changes say the new map reflects a demographic shift along the Interstate 270 corridor.

The special session, which begins Monday, is not expected to last more than several days.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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