Why Hogan Wants Obama’s Help on Redistricting
The usual suspects are burning up Facebook with grousing about a story reported by Maryland Matters that says Governor Larry Hogan has reached out to former President Barack Obama for help regarding redistricting:
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) is hoping to enlist the support of two high-profile Democrats — including former President Barack Obama — in his push to bring nonpartisan redistricting to Maryland.
With the “emergency commission” that he created last year poised to release a proposed congressional map that the state could use in 2020, Hogan is asking Obama and former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., to throw their weight behind his efforts….
……In his letters to the two men, Hogan writes, “I am in complete agreement with your goal of building a democracy where voters pick their elected representatives, not the other way around.”
After praising the two men for efforts to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions in several others states, Hogan urges them to get involved in Maryland, where the General Assembly is considering a host of reform measures.
“With your support, I believe we can set things right in Maryland,” Hogan writes.
Now obviously there is little that Governor Hogan agrees with former President Obama on. Nor has there ever been a time in which we at Red Maryland have given Obama any praise (and we certainly aren’t going to start now).
But in a statement that is both accurate and will make the heads of the 5%ers explode, Governor Hogan was absolutely correct to reach out to Barack Obama for assistance on redistricting.
The long-term goal for redistricting in Maryland remains what it has always been: the establishment of a permanent, non-partisan redistricting commission. This has been a goal of Republicans and good-government types for a long time. It was this website’s most important issue heading into the 2018 election.
As we have pointed out on numerous occasions. the Democrats are trying to do everything in their power not to enact redistricting reform:
- The created the Trash Compact that would only allow for redistricting reform if other states adopted reform;
- They’ve tried to ignore an amendment that would create single-member districts in the House of Delegates;
- They’ve focused on nonsense bills like a compact on the national popular vote.
And that’s just some of the ways that Democrats have tried to avoid addressing the real and actual problem of redistricting and tried to avoid the very popular and necessary specter of a non-partisan redistricting commission.
Governor Hogan has already forced Democrats into a no-win situation on redistricting through his Emergency Redistricting Commission, which proposed a new map that did not radically alter the already existing districts. But that doesn’t mean that Democrats will actually do the right thing.
And that’s why Hogan reached out to Obama. Though they are of different parties, both have preached for the necessity of redistricting reform. By trying to get Obama to support reform here in Maryland, Governor Hogan may force Maryland Democrats to make a hard choice.
If Obama supports the Hogan plan, it’s going to make it difficult for Democrats to oppose it. Obama remains the most popular figure in the Democratic Party and by standing against redistricting, an issue near and dear to every Democrat in the country except Maryland, Maryland Democrats would be at cross purposes with their party’s biggest star.
If Obama refuses to support the Hogan plan, well the Governor is no worse off than he was when he started. To boot, he will have exposed the Obama National Democratic Redistricting Committee as a partisan hack of an organization that only cares about redistricting reform when it helps Democrats.
What’s the downside to Governor Hogan in making the ask? Nothing.
I understand to a point why on the face of reached out to Obama. But only to a point. And I know the same 5%ers who spend their days complaining on Facebook as opposed to actually engaging in policy and electoral politics will continue their grousing. But if the idea is to bring permanent redistricting reform to our state and if in some way Barack Obama can help that, what’s the downside to conservatives? Working with a Democrat who agrees with you on an issue and might be willing to help you make it happen is not a bad thing. It’s not like we’re talking about some major philosophical issue about the size of government or morality that the Governor is working across the aisle to fix; it’s redistricting reform, something that a lot of people in both parties want to see fixed.
The only people who are really going to end up continuing to complain about the Governor’s efforts on reaching across the aisle are people who are content to permanently lose elections and don’t ever want to see public policy wins for conservatives. The usual suspects will whine and continue to say that “Red Maryland is covering for Hogan again” but I’m all ears to hear an excuse why Governor Hogan should not seek all the help he can get to pass meaningful redistricting reform.
If Governor Hogan can enlist Barack Obama to help pass a reform that ultimately elects more conservatives in the State House and the State Senate, that’s a net positive and no conservatives should oppose that.