“How Democrats Gerrymandered Their Way to Victory in Maryland”

Dave Daley in The Atlantic:

New court depositions and previously unseen emails uncover just how determined Maryland Democrats were to take a seat from the Republicans and knock 10-term veteran Roscoe Bartlett—an idiosyncratic conservative who after losing his seat retired off the grid in the mountains of West Virginia, issuing dire warnings about the vulnerability of our power grid—out of office. They also reveal the partisanship with which Democrats approached redistricting in Maryland: As former governor and 2016 Democratic presidential primary candidate Martin O’Malley explains, he and other Democrats wanted to use their party’s control of the governor’s office to secure a  7-1 majority.

“Yes,” said O’Malley, in a deposition. “Part of my intent was to create a map that, all things being legal and equal, would, nonetheless, be more likely to elect more Democrats rather than less.”

Nationally, Republicans not only dominated the decennial redistricting that followed the 2010 census, but reinvented the partisan gerrymander. The GOP executed a strategy called REDMAP, short for Redistricting Majority Project. They successfully targeted control of state legislative chambers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin and many other states, earning total control of the new lines even in bluish swing states. The GOP emerged from 2010 with unilateral power to draw 193 U.S. House seats while the Democrats fully controlled merely 44. REDMAP cost just $30 million and went a long way to ensuring GOP control of the House and state legislatures nationwide. In 2012 when Democratic congressional candidates received 1.4 million more votes but Republicans maintained a 33-seat majority. It was the biggest bargain—and perhaps the most audacious heist—in modern politics.

Nevertheless, the untold story of Maryland’s sixth congressional district—unfolding now in documents before a U.S. District Court in the Benisek v Lamone partisan gerrymandering case—illustrate just how fiercely Democrats, as well, have fought to rig the system in their direction when presented with the opportunity. Republicans controlled redistricting in many more states in 2010. But these court records show that Democrats were also eager to maximize a fundamentally broken redistricting process to their advantage, and to the detriment of democracy.

Listen also to this On the Media segment.

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