“We’re wanting on the numbers and whether or not it should make sense politically, and whether or not we will maintain the seven seats that now we have,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) mentioned in an interview final week. “As a result of, keep in mind, that is for 10 years.”
After which there’s Harris himself, a firebrand conservative physician identified for practically beginning a fistfight on the Home ground in the hours after the Jan. 6 rebellion and advocating to be used of a controversial drug to deal with Covid-19.
Democrats in Annapolis face a quandary just like their counterparts in Illinois final month: Simply how far ought to they go in urgent their benefit after the nationwide occasion railed in opposition to the final spherical of Republican gerrymandering. There are three chief choices for a new Maryland map: keep the status-quo of seven Democratic-leaning seats and one Republican district on the Japanese Shore; create eight seats that closely favor Democrats; or go away seven blue seats and remodel Harris’ seat into a aggressive district.
A last choice will probably be made by state legislators in a particular session subsequent month.
“You will have a robust Democratic state, and that is a group mission. It is like a sporting contest, and due to that we combat laborious to win,” Ruppersberger added. However he admitted that there have been eventualities that justified making the most of Democrats’ supermajority in Annapolis. “If it means retaining the bulk? Sure.”
Biden didn’t slip beneath 60 p.c in any of the state’s seven Democratic-held seats, providing numerous wiggle room to carve up the state. The one aggressive district in Maryland in the course of the previous decade — the western panhandle seat now held by Democratic Rep. David Trone — has veered blue in current elections. Biden bested then-President Donald Trump by 23 factors there in 2020.
Democrats don’t have any illusions in regards to the unfavorable political ambiance looming subsequent November. However the delegation remains to be deciding its most popular structure for the map and a few are extra desirous to shoot for a GOP shutout than others.
“I do not know. I imply, if it is not broke, do not repair it. However some folks suppose that it’s broke,” mentioned Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), who first served from 1987 to 1996 earlier than returning in a particular election final yr. “I do not know the way we try this statistically given the truth that there was not a lot of development in Maryland.”
“That must decrease all people’s Democratic Efficiency Index, which might put some seats in jeopardy,” he added. “I believe all these issues need to be thought-about.”
However Harris, who was first elected in 2010, is a controversial member of the delegation that many Democrats — and even some Republicans — wish to see defeated.
An anesthesiologist by coaching, he ousted a average Republican incumbent in a 2008 main solely to lose in the overall election. He was victorious two years later, joined the conservative Home Freedom Caucus and noticed his district morph into a GOP vote sink that mixes the Japanese Shore with probably the most Republican elements of Northeast Maryland.
Harris echoed Trump’s claims of election fraud in 2020 after which nearly got in a physical altercation with Democratic members because the Home convened as soon as the Capitol was secured to certify the election outcomes. He additionally drew criticism for revealing that he prescribed ivermectin, a drug additionally used to combat parasites in livestock, to Covid-19 sufferers. (The FDA has not accepted the drug as a Covid remedy, and different medical societies have disavowed it).
Harris’ vote in opposition to certifying the presidential outcomes have led some in the state to brazenly query whether or not he poses a menace to democracy.
Former Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, a average whom Harris ousted in a 2008 GOP main, wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Solar earlier this week urging lawmakers in Annapolis to “consider the type of anti-democratic extremism that the present map has empowered.”
“As a believer in democracy and the need of the folks, I help a redrawn 1st District that permits voters to render a verdict on Congressman Harris that isn’t predetermined by packing practically a quarter of Maryland’s Republican voters into simply considered one of our eight districts,” he wrote in the op-ed, which was tweeted out by Hoyer, Trone and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).
Harris is properly conscious he’s in Democrats’ crosshairs and has been fundraising off the prospect that they may draw him out of his seat. However he declined to remark when requested about it final week.
“I don’t discuss to POLITICO,” he mentioned in a temporary interview exterior the Home chamber final week.
Harris already has a well-funded Democratic challenger, Heather Mizeur, a former state legislator, who determined to mount a run after Jan. 6 and the aftermath, together with when Harris violated Home guidelines by trying to convey a gun to the ground.
Mizeur — who ran to the left in a 2014 Democratic main for governor, which now-Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) finally gained — may very well be an uncomfortable match for a swing district. She moved to the district from Takoma Park, a D.C. suburb, to run an natural farm along with her spouse and in addition began a nonprofit aimed toward mending the divisive nature of politics.
One potential looming level of awkwardness for Maryland Democrats: Their nationwide occasion has led a public campaign in opposition to gerrymandering, advocating for nonpartisan redistricting commissions in each state.
And any map that endangers Harris is prone to enrage nationwide Republicans, who’re already bitter over the Democratic gerrymander in Illinois that may doubtless fell two of the 5 GOP members of the delegation.
But Republicans have definitely handed aggressive maps of their very own in locations like North Carolina and Texas, leaving some Democrats to say they don’t plan to brook any criticism.
“One factor I do know is that Democrats should not going to endure any lectures about gerrymandering from the individuals who have completed all the pieces in their energy to dam reform of the system,” mentioned Raskin, citing Republicans’ opposition to Democrats’ huge voting rights invoice. “I imply, GOP now stands for the ‘gerrymander-only occasion.’”
Heather Caygle contributed to this report.