Taking a stand when it matters

Posted by Jack Mumby on February 4, 2014


Gerrymandering, politicians picking the voters who ought to be picking them is sadly a nationwide trend. Common Cause is pushing back wherever it happens, but it's nice to see some leadership on this issue right across the DC border.

That's why it's so refreshing to see Maryland Delegate Heather Mizeur take on cronyism in her own party, announcing this week that redistricting reform will be a key plank of her campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Mizeur wants an independent, nonpartisan commission to draw legislative districts, instead of letting politicians draw maps that best protect their incumbents. We've seen this work before -- after a similar proposal was enacted in California, with the help of Common Cause's state chapter, one in 4 incumbents in the state's notoriously stagnant House delegation lost their re-election bids.

And having grown up in Maryland, I know how badly we need this kind of reform our 3rd Congressional District was recently named the most gerrymandered in the nation, possibly because of its uncanny resemblance to a perturbed octopus.

octopus

With this move and her decision earlier in the campaign to accept public financing (a program Common Cause MD helped enact), Mizeur is responding to voter dissatisfaction across the spectrum with a political class more concerned with helping itself than helping its constituents.

It's easy to bang the reformist drum when the beat serves your political interests. But calling out your own party, as Mizeur has done, and several of her Democratic colleagues did in the General Assembly, risks making powerful enemies and takes real guts.

As she battles the current lieutenant governor and establishment favorite for the nomination, Mizeur could just be making a calculated move to play up her outsider credentials. But even if that's true, this is the right thing to do. As the old saying goes, good policy makes good politics; let's just hope her opponents follow her lead.

 

Office: Common Cause National

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