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June 18, 2002

Governor Glendening Lays An Egg

Norman M. Covert

The Maryland Court of Appeals broke a lot of hearts June 11th, declaring the Democrat-drawn Legislative Redistricting Plan unconstitutional. Lots of good people, who were enthused about the September Democratic primary, are looking at their literature, signs, giveaways, and lost dollars wondering what happened! "Hecht Yes" became "Hell, I Don't Know."

Not many doubted "The Plan" would become the law in Maryland and it did, but only for three months. Cumberland's Casper Taylor and Prince George's County 's Mike Miller told Democratic candidates not to sweat the bothersome objections filed in court, they could take care of it. They couldn't and didn't.

It's clear that Governor Parris Glendening laid an egg!

The court took a look at the approved redistricting formula in April, then heard 15-plus objections last week and ruled "The Plan" was illegal in all respects. The court, by its decision, also may have sent its ethical opinion to Senate President Miller and other senators, who had the temerity to call the judges regarding the case.

"Significant portions of the Plan," the court wrote, "are not consistent with the requirements of Article III, 4, of the Constitution of Maryland that 'each legislative district shall consist of adjoining territory, be compact in form, and of substantially equal population' and that 'due regard shall be given to natural boundaries and the boundaries of political subdivisions' and for that reason, the Plan is in violation of the Maryland Constitution and is invalid."

So much for the best-laid plan. Our neighborhood's Legislative Districts 3 and 4 boundaries are restored - the "A" and "B" appendages are history.

Now what do these idealistic candidates for office do with their election plans, media/advertising campaigns, proposed mailings, and the campaign junk in their garages?

It certainly isn't reason to give up. However, it will be some time before the previously filed candidates know which neighborhoods house their constituents.

Candidates could hang around and hope the Court of Appeals draws realistic boundaries and perhaps even provides the sub-districts allowing them to salvage some material. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that we'll see "duck tape" on signs covering the A's and Bs. Some candidates may fold up camp and avoid the fray. There's enough uncertainty to test the resolve of confused candidates. There is the odd candidate who has his/her head in the sand, ignoring the meaning of the court's order, trusting Democrat assurances.

We could face delayed primaries, and who knows about the general election if the court is slow in drawing new legislative boundaries. It's a good bet that if District 3 remains as such, newcomers will be hard pressed to defeat incumbents Del. Louise Snodgrass (R.,3rd) and Del. Joe Bartlett (R.,3rd). Del. Paul Stull (R.,4th) doesn't appear to be in any danger.

Del. Sue Hecht (D-3) may be wounded by the restored boundary in running for Senator Alex X. Mooney's (R-3) seat, but she's a strong contender with the traditional Democratic majority. Senator Mooney, however, has a large constituency among the Independents.

Governor Glendening and the Democrats are trying to put an optimistic spin on the court's decision because the defeat exposes dirty backroom dealings in Annapolis by the Democratic inner circle.

The governor set the illegal boundaries for new legislative districts statewide that would virtually guarantee Democrats more seats in the General Assembly. "The Plan" for Western Maryland was to oust Sen. Mooney and Sen. Tim Ferguson (R.,4th). It won't be easy now.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend may be toned down a bit after this kick in the pants. The decision smears Ms. Kennedy Townsend and certainly hurts her gubernatorial campaign. The governor now is trying to deflect blame by saying "some of her ideas" were used in putting together the gerrymandering ploy.

Secretary of State John T. Willis headed the committee drawing up "The Plan," but took direction from the governor's office and party leaders like Senate President Miller and House Speaker Taylor. The court's decision rocked the foundations of the Glendening cabal.

Will the political avarice displayed by Glendening/Kennedy Townsend and their cronies never end, and do Marylanders really want to put up with more of the Mafioso style of doing business for the next four years?

Candidate Kennedy Townsend better distance herself from the governor to have any chance of overcoming the campaign negatives from the court decision. Maryland inherited Kennedy Townsend and all bets are off about her being around in January.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Robert Erhlich has received a free gift from the Democrats. If he takes advantage of it and the voters see what has really happened to integrity in Annapolis, a change will be made.

"The Plan" is a scandal exposed for what it was. The unfortunate 3A and 3B Democratic candidates don't deserve the whacking they have received from trusting the "movers and shakers" in Annapolis.

But that's politics!

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