WASHINGTON – The Republican 4th District congressional candidate, who lost in a landslide Tuesday, said he will file a lawsuit this week claiming the district was unconstitutionally drawn to favor black voters.
John Kimble, who trailed Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, by an 86-14 percent margin in preliminary returns, said he will ask for four years of congressional pay that he claims he was denied as a result of the 1992 redistricting.
“The 4th District was set up to elect a minority to Congress,” said Kimble, who also lost to Wynn in 1996. “It is so weirdly shaped, it is definitely unconstitutional.”
The district is 58 percent black, but that does not make it unconstitutional, said legal experts and aides to Wynn.
Elena Temple, a spokeswoman for Wynn, said that the district is “one of the most compactly and justifiably drawn [minority districts] in the nation.”
The 4th District snakes around the eastern edge of Washington, D.C., to include much of Prince George’s County inside the Capital Beltway and a portion of eastern Montgomery County.
Kimble calls the design of the district a clear case of reverse discrimination. But officials with the Attorney General’s Office said that, even if he had a case, Kimble has waited too long to file suit against a district that was created six years ago.
“It is far too late to make that kind of challenge,” said Assistant Attorney General Kathleen Hoke Dachille.
She said Kimble’s threatened challenge, if filed, would have serious technical deficiencies.
“It is not something that is making me shake in my boots,” said Dachille.
Kimble said he might not file, “If I were to change parties.” He noted that he was not offered any help by the Republican Party in his run against Wynn.
But Kimble said that for now he plans to go ahead with the suit and sue for actual damages equal to four years of a congressman’s salary, or more than $500,000. In the meantime, he has already updated his web site to state his intention to run for Congress again in 2000.
Kimble believes he will win his lawsuit, which he plans to file this week at the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.
“I will win the lawsuit and I will have the 4th redistricted before the next election,” he said.
At least one legal expert doubts that will happen.
Daniel Polsby, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, said most cases like Kimble’s are not successful and are filed by “some turkey that did not get elected.”