I share former Councilmember Phil Andrewsâ€™ goals on redistricting reform, open primaries and public financing, but itâ€™s not going to happen any time soon. Too many legislators just donâ€™t want to take the risk of bucking the system to advocate for a more open electoral process.
Reforming gerrymandering is imperative, but not sufficient alone to bring about truly representative legislative bodies. In addition to eliminating gerrymandering, public financing of campaigns (used by Governor Hogan, but not available to state legislative candidates) to provide candidates with an alternative to big money from the wealthy and from PACs, and opening primaries to all voters comprise the trifecta of political reform that would produce a far more representative Congress and state legislature.
But it should happen, and it should happen now, because both parties in Maryland have a great deal at risk in the governorâ€™s race in 2018. If the Democrats win back the position, GOP gains will likely be lost in the next map drawing exercise. If Larry Hogan is reelected, the carnage for Democratic incumbents in places like Anne Arundel County and elsewhere will be immense, conceivably threatening a functional if not actual Democratic House majority in 2022.
Thereâ€™s a right-left axis of legislators that should come together to make this happen, but my sense is that it wonâ€™t happen because both sides see the prospect of ultimate victory following the 2018 election. The time for compromise - an independent redistricting process - is now, right now, before we get past 2016 and the battle lines are drawn for 2018. I still donâ€™t think it will happen, but it should.