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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Newly Drawn Legislative District 7 Could Lead to Shakeups in 2022

Del. Richard K. Impallaria (R-Harford). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Maryland’s new legislative map means uncertainty for Republican House incumbents in Harford County: District 7 Republican Delegates Lauren C. Arikan and Richard K. Impallaria will have to compete with each other in a new single-member district.

Impallaria, of Joppatowne, and Arikan, of Jarrettsville, were both drawn into the newly created District 7B, a single-member district in Harford County, in the state legislative map enacted by lawmakers in January. District 7 was previously a multi-member district represented by Arikan, Impallaria and Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County).

That change means that the two Republican delegates will have to compete with each other in the June 28 primary — assuming the map stands. Fair Maps Maryland, an anti-gerrymandering group with ties to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), announced plans for a lawsuit shortly after lawmakers finalized the legislative maps.

Arikan said she still intends to run for reelection in 2022.

“I intend to run no matter what my district is, but there will certainly be conversations with other delegates depending on where I’m drawn in,” Arikan said in an interview. “But I don’t intend not to run. So you know, you just pray.”

Impallaria said in an interview that he isn’t making any decisions until the Court of Appeals weighs in.

“I’m still looking at all my options,” Impallaria said. “I won’t make that decision until I decide to go down and file.”

The filing deadline for the upcoming primary election is Feb. 22.

Impallaria was first elected to the General Assembly in 2002 — the same year that the Court of Appeals threw out a new legislative map, arguing that the districts violated the state constitution. Impallaria said the potential legal challenges to the map create uncertainty for candidates.

“They can change the lines,” Impallaria said. “They may tweak them just a small amount, but me and Del. Arikan are on the edge of the district. So you can never tell what’s going to happen.”

Impallaria said he’s seen candidates undertake intense door-knocking campaigns in a district, only for that district to be redrawn.

“It doesn’t make sense for me at this point to start planning a strategy when we don’t know what the lines are going to be,” he said.

District 7 before and after redistricting

Left: District 7 (in light green) was previously a three-member delegate district that straddled the border of Baltimore and Harford counties. Right: In legislative maps adopted by the General Assembly in January, District 7 now includes a single-member district in Harford County and a two-member delegate district in eastern Baltimore County. Maryland Matters illustration.

Should Impallaria and Arikan wind up running against each other, they’ve got roughly the same amount of money in their campaign accounts. Impallaria reported $36,618 on hand as of Jan. 12 compared to Arikan’s $28,452.

The maps approved by the General Assembly were drawn by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission, a panel convened by Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). Jones and Ferguson were both members of that commission, which was chaired by Karl Aro, a former head of the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services.

The other members of the commission were Senate President Pro Tem Melony G. Griffith (D-Prince George’s), House Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery), House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) and Senate Minority Leader Bryan W. Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel).

During the House floor debate on redistricting, Luedtke said the map proposed by the Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission aimed to keep as many Marylanders in their current districts as possible.

A separate proposal from the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, a panel convened by Hogan to draw up congressional and legislative maps, didn’t advance out of committee. That proposal also would’ve drawn Arikan and Impallaria into a single-member district, although Arikan said she supported that map because panelists weren’t allowed to consider where incumbents lived when drafting their proposal.

Ellen “EJ” McNulty, a Republican who had been running for a House seat in District 42B in Baltimore County, was narrowly drawn at the last minute into the new two-member delegate District 7A. McNulty said in an interview that the border of the district essentially ends at her driveway.

District 42 as a whole became more conservative, shoring up Sen. Christopher R. West (R) for reelection. The former District 42A around Towson, represented by Del. Catherine M. Forbes (D), became District 43B and was joined with Baltimore City. The district remained largely similar in shape and will still be single-member.

The new District 42B is a single-member district drawn just north of Towson and will likely shore up Del. Michele J. Guyton (D) for reelection. McNulty, who had hoped to unseat Guyton in 2022, charged that the move to draw her out of District 42 was “absolutely” intentional.

“Do I think they drilled down and specifically targeted me? Absolutely” McNulty said

She added that she’s willing to run in District 7A. But there may not be an open spot in that district: Del. Joseph C. Boteler III (R), who has represented Baltimore County’s purplish District 8, appears to have also been drawn into District 7A, joining Szeliga as incumbents there.

Boteler said he was pleased to get many of the neighborhoods he’s represented in the 8th District into the new District 7A. “I’ve got 60% of the people who voted for me before,” he said.

Through Jan. 12, Boteler had $32,429 in his campaign treasury, while Szeliga reported a robust $249,042 on hand.

The rest of the District 42, meanwhile, has been split into two single-member districts that will likely favor Republicans: District 42A includes most of northern Baltimore County, and District 42C includes eastern Carroll County around Hampstead.

The Maryland Court of Appeals, which has original jurisdiction over legislative redistricting cases, issued a scheduling order last week for challenges to the new map. Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m. is the deadline for petitions against the new map; Feb. 15 at 4:30 p.m. is the state’s deadline to answer those petitions; and a scheduling conference will take place virtually at 10:00 a.m. on Feb. 17.

Alan M. Wilner, a retired Court of Appeals judge who served on the court between 1996 and 2007, will serve as special magistrate for legislative redistricting challenges.

Hogan has appointed five of the Court of Appeals’ seven judges, including Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty, his former chief legislative officer. Getty was appointed to the top court in June 2016, and became chief judge last September when Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. Getty, 69, will reach the court’s mandatory retirement age in April.

Arikan said she’s holding off on filing to run in the new district as the Court of Appeals takes on the case.

“I’m hoping that before the filing deadline, we might get some kind of outcome,” Arikan said.

McNulty, a longtime Republican political strategist, said if she was advising someone in her current position she would tell them to wait and see what happens in court.

“I’m trying to be optimistic,” McNulty said. “The nature of our court right now is the unknown variable.”

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.