ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Republican Rep. Constance Morella will have a hard time winning re-election under the governor's redistricting proposal, top Democratic state lawmakers said Thursday.
The moderate Republican, who has held the 8th District seat in Montgomery County since 1987, will be pressed to retain the seat in the redrawn district, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Casper Taylor said.
Even though Democrats are likely to pick up a seat, Miller said he is disappointed that the five-member commission did not back his plan, which he said would have given Democrats a good chance at winning six of Maryland's eight seats in Congress.
The proposal was being distributed Thursday to the eight incumbents -- four Democrats and four Republicans.
The plan is not final and could be changed before Glendening presents it to the General Assembly. But Taylor said it is unlikely major changes will be made.
The governor's advisory commission -- which includes Taylor and Miller -- voted 4-to-1 Wednesday to send out its proposal to the members of Congress. Taylor said it was not a final proposal, but was "a concept plan."
As it now stands, the plan would leave three congressional districts in the Baltimore area and two in the Washington suburbs. Miller had wanted to shift a seat to the rapidly growing Washington area, which picked up two districts in the legislative redistricting plan.
"The population growth dictates that a third (congressional) seat could and should shift over as well," Miller said.
Delegate Rushern Baker, chairman of the Prince George's County delegation in the House of Delegates, said he supported Miller's plan.
"We think that given the population, we deserve an extra seat," Baker said.
However, Miller said most incumbents will be happy with the plan, including Republicans Wayne Gilchrest in the 1st District and Roscoe Bartlett in the 6th District.
Republican Robert Ehrlich, who has not decided whether to seek re-election, will live near the line dividing two districts in the Baltimore area and could run for either seat, Taylor and Miller said. Members of Congress do not have to live in their districts.
Miller said if Ehrlich runs in his old district and is challenged by Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat, there would be an outside chance Ruppersberger would win.
There was no immediate response from members of Congress because they had not yet received copies of the proposal.