A bill introduced during the recent special session of the Maryland General Assembly by Del. Anthony O’Donnell (R: Calvert/St. Mary’s) would have put Southern Maryland into a congressional district with parts of Prince George’s County that extended well inside the DC Beltway. The bill would have dramatically changed the district’s demographic makeup and would have pitted Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer and Donna Edwards against each other.
The bill, House Bill 4, and a companion amendment to Senate Bill 1, the bill that ultimately prevailed, were both defeated largely along party lines. The House bill was defeated 96-41. Del. John Wood (D: St. Mary’s/Charles) did vote in favor of O’Donnell’s bill although he supported the governor’s bill on its final vote.
The O’Donnell bill would have changed the 5th Congressional District from 37 percent African-American to a majority minority district with 57 percent African-American population. Because the district would have been overwhelmingly Democratic and Edwards is African-American, she would have been considered a front runner in a primary face off against Hoyer. Edwards is considered to be one of the most liberal House members.
Another redistricting bill (House and Senate Bills 5) would have split Southern Maryland, putting Charles County with an elongated district that snaked its way up the center of the state through Prince George’s, Howard and Baltimore counties. That district would have been majority minority population. St. Mary’s and Calvert would have been lumped with a large portion of Anne Arundel in a new Third Congressional District which was overwhelmingly white (70 percent). The House bill was introduced by Del. Michael Hough (R: Frederick/Washington). The bill failed to clear the House Rules Committee.
The governor’s redistricting proposal, which ultimately prevailed, left the current 5th Congressional District relatively intact and with Hoyer, who lives in Mechanicsville, as the only incumbent in the district.
Calls to O’Donnell’s district office in Solomons did not result in a return call from the five-term delegate who currently serves as House Minority Leader.