Posted by: Ann Corcoran | July 13, 2012

Redistricting petition passes threshhold, makes it three tests for O’Malley in November

“…..the most challenges to the ruling party’s legislative agenda in half a century.” 

What a testament to the power of grassroots organizing!

This is old news for news junkies, but earlier this week the Maryland State Board of Elections announced that MDPetitions.com had passed the critical number of approved voter signatures to put Gov. Martin (I-want-to-be-Pres) O’Malley’s state redistricting plan on the ballot in November.

Here is the Baltimore Sun story:

A Republican-led group trying to repeal Maryland’s new congressional map has gathered enough valid signatures to trigger a referendum, the State Board of Elections said Wednesday.

The map — which one federal judge called a “blatant political gerrymander” — was the result of the once-a-decade redistricting that must take into account population changes found by the census. But Democrats have acknowledged it was designed to give their party a strong chance of picking up a seventh seat in Maryland’s eight-member delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The finding that the map’s critics have secured more than the required 56,000 signatures likely assures the measure will be on November’s ballot. That would make it one of three laws passed by the General Assembly’s majority Democrats to go before voters this fall — the most challenges to the ruling party’s legislative agenda in half a century. All three are high-profile efforts backed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“People want checks and balances,” said Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex X. Mooney. “The Democrats have total control, and they do what they want.”

Other laws headed for the ballot include this year’s legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and a measure passed last year to allow some illegal immigrants to pay lower in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities. Before last year, two decades had passed since any group successfully petitioned a law to the ballot.

Earlier in the week, the Baltimore Sun editorialized that the first two issues that are headed to the ballot box—the Dream Act and Gay marriage—are hot button issues so in retrospect (because frankly everyone was surprised by MDPetitions.com’s success in signing up people against the Dream Act) those signify not much (or so the Sun says), but the arcane issue of redistricting is another matter and will have significant ramifications for the ruling party should the voters overturn it.   That is what Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney is saying here:

Mooney, the Republican chairman, said having a referendum on the map was “extremely important” because it shows that his party can challenge legislation that doesn’t typically capture public attention.

But, this is not just about Republicans, black Democrats are angry too!

He [Del. Neil Parrott who founded MDPetitions.com] said plans to form a coalition of Republicans, African-Americans and good-government groups — all of whom opposed the map when it was passed by the General Assembly in an October special session.

Radamase Cabrera, a spokesman for the Fannie Lou Hamer Political Action Committee, said the group plans to mobilize black communities against the map. The Prince George’s County-based group is named after a civil rights activist. The organization, which argues Maryland should have a third district in which African-Americans are a majority, helped mount a failed court challenge to the map last year.

Now, Cabrera says, the group will try to reach black Democrats who are coming out to support President Barack Obama in the fall and seek their votes against the map. “Why should Baltimore City have to be split up in three districts to protect white incumbents?” *Cabrera said. “That clearly dilutes black voter strength.”

Readers, if you have never seriously examined O’Malley’s map, visit MDPetitions and see it in all its colorful glory, here.

* On a somewhat related subject, Rush Limbaugh yesterday reminded listeners that the KKK was founded by Democrats, that the fire hoses turned on blacks during the Civil Rights era were held by Democrats, that Democrats worked against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, etc. etc.


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