Gov. Larry Hogan announced he would sign Maryland’s new congressional map into law after reaching an agreement with the state’s Democratic attorney general, giving Republicans a chance to pick up an extra House seat in the midterm elections.
The governor said he had reached a deal with Attorney General Brian Frosh to sign the most recent version of the congressional map if Frosh dropped his appeal of the state’s ruling that the first version amounted to an “extreme partisan gerrymander.” As a result, Hogan is set to enact the new boundaries next week, ending a lengthy legal battle that left the Maryland primary elections in limbo.
“Pleased Gov. Hogan has agreed to sign the congressional redistricting map,” Frosh tweeted. “This map, like the one previously passed by the General Assembly, is Constitutional & fair. Both sides have agreed to dismiss appeals & our state can move forward to the primary election.”
The initial House map would have virtually guaranteed Maryland Democrats seven out of eight House seats in the state, where President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump, 65% to 32%, in 2020. Maryland had been a linchpin in House Democrats’ plans to gerrymander aggressively in the states where they had complete control of the process. With House Republicans needing to net five seats to win the majority, each district counted.
The approved version of the Maryland map would ensure six Democratic-leaning seats and give Republicans a better chance to keep the seat held by GOP Rep. Andy Harris in the district along the state’s conservative Eastern Shore. The new boundaries would create a highly competitive race for Democratic Rep. David Trone in Maryland’s western counties, along the West Virginia and western Pennsylvania state lines, giving Republicans a chance to pick up an extra House seat.
The latest iteration removes a part of Montgomery County, which is reliably Democratic, from Trone’s district and swings it 13 points in Republicans’ favor.
The Maryland General Assembly passed an initial congressional map on a party-line vote in December, with only one Democrat joining Republicans to vote no. Hogan vetoed the original congressional lines, making it uncertain whether he would greenlight the state’s latest version.
However, the governor came to an agreement with Frosh on Friday that he would enact the new lines if he abandoned his efforts to revive the original congressional map. A spokesperson for Hogan’s office said that as part of the agreement, the new map would no longer need the approval of Judge Lynne Battaglia, who struck down the first version, arguing it violated the Maryland Constitution’s rules and unfairly favored Democrats.
The primary election, initially scheduled for June 28 but delayed by three weeks due to legal challenges over the district boundaries, will now be held on July 19.