Rep. Donna Edwards at Odds With Democratic Governor Over Redistricting

Rep. Donna Edwards at Odds With Democratic Governor Over Redistricting

Rep. Edwards says the new maps splinters minorities into districts that would be represented by white men.

Published October 12, 2011

In an interesting redistricting twist, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) is opposed to the new map drawn by an advisory committee commissioned by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) that gives the state’s Democratic delegation a seven-to-one advantage. According to Edwards, who is African-American, the plan would splinter minorities, who make up the majority of people living in Montgomery County according to the most recent census, into three districts that would be represented by white men, The Washington Post reports.

 

“I have been one of the strongest proponents as a Democrat of drawing a seventh district for Democrats,” told the Post Tuesday. “But we can accomplish that in a different way. ... Where I have a real disagreement is in making superior the political interests to the minority voting rights interests.”

 

Edwards contends that the new map would reduce the Black voting-age population in her district by about two percent and the percentage of minorities in a district represented by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is white, even more.

 

“It’s difficult for me to understand how, given that growth, you’d see a reduction in the percentages in minority populations in each congressional district,” Edwards said.

 

But according to the Post's report, some Black lawmakers believe that Edwards’ objectives are personal and aimed at ensuring that she will win re-election. Del. Melony G. Griffith, chair of the Prince George’s delegation, disputes questions over whether Montgomery County would or could elect a Black representative in light of the fact that it has a Black county executive and council chairman.

 

Several state and Montgomery County officials have sided with Edwards and believe that the map would dilute minority voting power and violate the Voting Rights Act. Elbridge James, a state NAACP official, said at a Tuesday press conference that if O’Malley doesn’t come up with a new plan, the NAACP will likely sue the state.

 

 “The NAACP is hoping — and that is a very loose word, hoping — that the governor ... [will] move off of this map to something that ... won’t be open to court challenge before Monday’s session,” said James.

(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Written by Joyce Jones

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