Md. Redistricting Plans Outlined

BERLIN — The three counties of the Lower Eastern Shore, including Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset, will likely remain a part of Maryland’s First Congressional District after the governor’s redistricting committee this week submitted a plan to Gov. Martin O’Malley that maintains the status quo on the Lower Shore.

After several months of public hearings and input sessions, the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee this week submitted a proposed map outlining the preferred alternative for redrawing Maryland’s eight congressional districts. The process was undertaken in order to adjust district lines to conform to state and federal standards following the 2010 U.S. Census.

The proposed plan and associated map leaves intact for the most part Maryland’s First Congressional District, currently represented by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, which includes the entire Eastern Shore along with parts of Harford, Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties. The proposed redrawing of the district’s lines does remove certain areas of Anne Arundel County and adds sections of Carroll County, but continues to include the entire Eastern Shore.

The second preferred alternative would have split the three counties of the Lower Shore, including Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset, out of the First District and lumped the region into the state’s Fifth District. The Fifth District, currently represented by longtime congressman Steny Hoyer, contains much of Southern Maryland, including St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties.

In the proposed plan, the three counties of the Lower Shore remain part of the entire Eastern Shore because joining the region to the Southern Maryland counties would have been alien to the citizens of Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset, which, by definition, are very much part of the Eastern Shore.

Sen. Jim Mathias (D-38) said this week he was pleased the preferred alternative and recommendation from the committee left his district and the entire shore whole.

“We went up and testified at Salisbury University a couple of weeks ago and the message we heard was the importance of keeping the Eastern Shore together,” he said. “This plan and this map does that, which is a good thing.”

The General Assembly is scheduled to meet in a special session starting Oct. 17, the primary purpose of which is to act on the proposed congressional district redistricting, which must be approved in advance of the primary election early next year.