Hawkins, in his deposition, admits that he drew maps with the intention of “see(ing) if there was a way to get another Democratic district in the state.” It took somewhere before 10 and 20 different drafts, shared amongst leaders, before the final lines could be set.
O’Malley, in his deposition, does not hide that the “intent” was to draw a map that would “create a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican.” The Democrats had two GOP seats to target for extinction, but ultimately selected the sixth, because tilting the first district toward the Democrats would have necessitated ugly lines that jumped the Chesapeake Bay.
“Was a decision made? I suppose in the sense that we decided not to try to cross the Chesapeake Bay, that a decision was made to go for the sixth,” he mused. “I don’t know that there was any meeting. It’s a pretty big body of water … so we didn’t go in that direction.”
Just before Election Day in 2010, the sixth district included 208,024 registered Republicans and 159,715 Democrats. Break down the percentages and that’s 46.7 percent Republican and 35.8 percent Democratic. The new sixth was turned inside-out: Just before Election Day in 2012, it contained 145,620 Republicans and 192,820 Democrats. Almost 70,000 Republicans were exited from the district.
It’s rare for a 10-term incumbent to be knocked from office; even more rare for him to lose by upwards of 20 percent. But in 2012, Bartlett lost to Democrat John Delaney by some 75,000 votes.
The new sixth district, as drawn by Haskins, looks like a fire-breathing dragon. Its northern border is the one solid line, but as it turns southeast toward Washington, D.C., picking up liberal voters in suburban Montgomery County, it’s all juts and wild turns, taking the shape of a hideous beast directing hellfire upon the capital. It’s a frightful district, but the perfect metaphor for the damage it inflicts on representative democracy.
O’Malley and other Democrats defended the sixth district by arguing that it created representation for the growing “I-270 corridor” of commuters from Frederick into Washington. But that patchy argument disintegrated under oath. Hawkins, asked if he considered I-270 as a community of interest when drawing the lines, replied simply and honestly: No. The speaker of Maryland’s lower house and the chairwoman of the governor’s redistricting committee said the same.
According to court documents, Jason Gleason, a top staffer for Representative Sarbanes, wrote a colleague that the I-270 explanation was “ painful to watch.” He continued: “I’m not sure I buy the themes they are selling. Hopefully they have some better ones for the public face of it.”
O’Malley didn’t have much better to offer in his deposition. He has become a reformer, of sorts, since leaving office, advocating for non-partisan redistricting commissions as well as ranked-choice voting. But in these court documents, he suggests that voters in Maryland understood redistricting to be a partisan exercise. As such, he argued, voters knew that electing a Democrat to serve a term that included the drawing of new legislative lines meant that they supported Democrats having a leg up in the process. He referred in his answers to voters he met on the campaign trail who encouraged him to lead a partisan redistricting effort.