Senate Redistricting: Cecil County Says Farewell to Nancy Jacobs; Cecil County Holds Majority over Harford in New Dist. 35
It was Cecil County voters who gave incumbent Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-34) her winning margin in the 2010 election, voting overwhelmingly in her favor while she narrowly lost her Harford County homebase. But proposed new redistricting maps would remove her from representing Cecil County and create a new two-county district with new representation.
As a result, Jacobs’ home is in a revised all-Harford County District 34, while a new Senate District 35 will cover a broader area of Cecil County along with sections of Harford County.
And the new district will give Cecil countians a voting-age population majority over Harford, with the possibility of a Cecil County resident winning the seat in 2014.
Months of rumors that the redistricting could create an all-Cecil County Senate district proved untrue, as the county is yet again lumped in with other counties—Harford County in the new 35th and three other Shore counties in a slightly redrawn 36th Senate district. Despite changes in other parts of the state that sought to unify counties and communities in single districts, when it comes to Cecil County, local residents are once again torn in different district directions.
Jacobs, whose district was modified in 2002 to add Cecil County, feared that the Democratic-controlled redistricting process would drop her Cecil electorate from the district and her concerns came true in the proposed maps issued late Friday by a Democratic-controlled commission. The panel will hold a public hearing this week before sending the proposal to Governor O’Malley, but few if any changes are expected before the Governor sends the new maps to the General Assembly in January.
Jacobs recently announced she has formed an exploratory committee to weigh a run for Congress, challenging incumbent Democrat Dutch Ruppersberger in the 2nd District. She had previously announced she was giving up her post as the state Senate Minority Leader to weigh other political options, in light of her redistricting concerns, that included potential runs for Congress in 2012 or Harford County executive or governor in 2014.
Reacting to the removal of Cecil County from her district, Jacobs lamented that she was “so very sorry that I no longer represent the citizens of Cecil County. They have been very supportive of me and I have become close to so many people there over the past ten years.” She recalled working with Cecil residents to oppose, and ultimately modify, proposed toll increases on the Hatem Bridge and she helped Port Deposit residents during recent floods.
“I have worked with so many individual constituents and come to love the character and heart of the people in Cecil County. I wish them the best and will never forget the honor I had serving them,” Jacobs said, She noted that her new Senate district would reach farther north to Bel Air and draws similar lines to the area she represented before the 2002 redistricting.
Meanwhile, the proposed maps create a new Cecil/Harford Senate district that will give Cecil County voters a slight population majority over the Harford county section of the new 35th Senate district.
Drilling down into state Planning Department data lists, the new Senate district will have 16,926 voting age (18 and over) Cecil County residents in the new 35B portion and 32,021 Cecil countians in the all-Cecil 35A area, for a total Cecil voting-age population of 48,949 in Senate District 35. The Harford county portion of the new 35B section tallies 46,684 people of voting age included in the Senate district.
The current 35th Senate district includes northeastern Harford County and is represented by Sen. Barry Glassman, a Republican, who was first appointed to the seat in 2007 and is a member of the Finance Committee. He previously served in the House of Delegates from 2000 to 2007 and two terms on the Harford County Council. He grew up on a farm in the county and currently raises sheep, while also working as an insurance claims investigator. His website is http://www.barryglassman.com/index.php
Glassman’s farm background, as well as his work as a volunteer firefighter and co-chair of the Legislative Fire and EMS Caucus in Annapolis, could make him an appealing candidate to voters in the Cecil County portion of the re-drawn district.
However, Glassman has been mentioned as a strong contender for Harford County Executive in 2014, when the current executive, David Craig, is term-limited and cannot run again. Glassman’s political background is Harford-centric and sticking with his homebase as county executive could be a more attractive opportunity than having to introduce himself to a whole new electorate in Cecil.
Furthermore, the population advantage of the district for a Cecil countian, especially one with some connections to Harford County, could prove a very appealing prospect to quite a few local politicians.
Indeed, the new parlor game for Cecil County politicians will be plugging in their own address, and those of potential rivals, into a not-yet-ready-for-primetime interactive map on the state Planning Department’s website. [The feature is slow and quirky, often requiring multiple tries and re-tries and zoom-ins and zoom-outs before it eventually displays the appropriate new district for an address.]
Playing the game ourselves, Cecil Times plugged in the Perryville address of Carl Roberts, the former county Superintendent of Schools, to find that he lives in the new 35th Senate district. Roberts lost a bid for Cecil County commissioner in 2010, but he has past ties to Harford County and its school system.
Meanwhile, the other Senate district covering Cecil County, the 36th now represented by Sen. E.J. Pipkin, a Republican, loses some Cecil County turf around Elkton in the new maps but does not make dramatic changes that might alter the prospects of the seat.
However, Cecil County residents’ population proportion of the district is cut back to make room for an expanded Caroline County presence in the 36th. State mapmakers said the change was made to give Caroline a chance to obtain a resident Delegate—which it has not had—in the four-county 36th.
Pipkin resides in Elkton while the three delegate seats included in the district currently are represented by incumbents from Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. Under the new maps, Caroline would have more voting-age residents in the district than Kent County. Heavily-Republican Queen Anne’s County continues to hold the majority population of the 36th.
When the new state Senate session convenes next month, Pipkin will be the new Senate Minority Leader and he is already stepping up his appearances on the statewide stage on a number of issues. His Senate seat is up for re-election in 2014 but he is believed to be considering a run for statewide office in 2014.