New congressional map to get Maryland governor’s approval

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will approve a new congressional map Monday, his office said, after a judge struck down a previous map and supporters of the original withdrew their appeals of that decision.

“In light of this development, this afternoon, Governor Hogan will sign the new congressional map into law,” the governor’s office said.

Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, said the case was settled over the weekend.

“Both sides have agreed to dismiss their appeals, and our state can move forward to the primary election,” Frosh said in a statement.

Democrats, who control the Maryland General Assembly, approved a quickly redrawn congressional map on Wednesday, five days after a judge struck down the one lawmakers approved in December as unconstitutional for diluting Republican votes. It was the first congressional map drawn by Democrats to be struck down this redistricting cycle.

Last week, a judge declared New York’s new Democrat-drawn congressional and legislative district maps unconstitutional. Courts have previously intervened to block maps they found to be GOP gerrymanders in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, Democrats hold a 7-1 advantage over the GOP in the state’s U.S. House seats.

The initial map approved by Democrats over Hogan’s veto made the lone Republican-held district held by Rep. Andy Harris more competitive. The new map takes away a portion that stretched from the Eastern Shore across the Chesapeake Bay into an area with more Democrats.

Republicans have long criticized the congressional map with its long, contorted lines as one of the most gerrymandered in the nation.

The new map for Maryland’s eight U.S. House seats makes the districts more compact.

In her 94-page ruling, Lynne Battaglia described the initial map as a “product of extreme partisan gerrymandering.” She found it violated the state constitutional requirement that legislative districts consist of adjoining territory and be compact in form, with due regard for natural boundaries and political subdivisions. It also violated the state constitution’s free elections, free speech and equal protection clauses, she said.

Maryland’s highest court already had delayed the state’s primary in a big election year from June 28 to July 19. Voters will decide all 188 seats in the state legislature, open statewide offices such as governor, attorney general and comptroller, a U.S. Senate seat and all eight congressional seats.

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