In a year in which the fundraising operations of most candidates are lower than previous years – mainly based on the recent unstable economic market – some candidates’ have made considerable in-roads into challenging their incumbent competitors through increased low-end donations and hi-tech social media venues.
Some districts are increasingly more competitive than others, while all positions are questionably more contentious during this year’s elections cycle than of years past, based on the anti-incumbent sentiment that has overwhelmed most Baltimore voters. “The people of this City are sick and tired of being sick and tired, continuously facing the same multitude of problems as years past, realizing that nothing has seemed to have changed – at least for the better,” said political commentator and Independent Mayoral challenger, Catalina Byrd. That is why Baltimore has seen a greater outpouring of independent, young and less politically connected challengers in this year’s Mayoral contest. However, without the same political backing and financial developers backing their candidacies, the question remains; will community sentiment trump political and financial will?
Yet in some cases, some of the challengers adored by the people, have also outraised and garnered more political support than that of their more seasoned competitors.
Therefore, this is a brief oversight of the districts, as well as some which are highlighted that are considered districts up-for-grabs dependent on political pundit insight, considering the strength of the challengers and based on the weakness of the incumbent; as well as analyzing the public sentiment of that district and the overview of political contributions to each candidate. This is NOT an endorsement process of any type, nor is it a guaranteed outcome of the upcoming Primary Elections; it is simply a political observation based on the previously stated information – determined by politically proven methods of observation and historical outcomes of the past.
Districts 1-7 are listed below on this article, while 8-14 will be listed in tomorrow’s Examiner article! Too much interesting and juicy information to fit into one article!
Council district incumbent James ‘Jim’ Kraft seems to not have a considerable challenge in winning re-election, though he has some great people running against him. Kraft, has been a great constituent servant in this district, at least to the communities that come out and vote in great numbers; thereby making him hard to beat unless someone raises a considerable amount of money and has district-wide name recognition which none of this challengers seem to have? Though if anyone was to give Jim a run for his money it would certainly be that of Jason Kahler? The young, tech-savvy teacher has emerged as a credible challenger, yet having raised only $2,000 total according to campaign finance reports, having only a $600 remaining balance; it will be hard pressed to beat the incumbent Kraft who himself raised $60K, on top of the $68K already amassed – spending $42K during this campaign season alone! That sounds like citywide fundraising totals; therefore this may be the last term Kraft is in this Southeast Fells Point/Canton district?
This race makes me proud just observing from a distance, as likely favorite Brandon Scott (27-years old), is making in-roads in the district held by longtime incumbent Nicholas D’Adamo – who is retiring from public office. Admirably bowing out after decades of service and putting his name and brand on a young replacement is what makes this race even that more special. Despite the criticism some have placed on Scott for being the hand-picked favorite of D’Adamo and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake – who transferred over $6,000 through her campaign slate to Brandon – this young man, came up through the ranks rising from community leader to this position of distinct honor! Having obviously risen way more cash than the rest of the field, as almost none of his opponents seemed to have filed a report, or did not raise enough or anything to file, Scott is the obvious choice and someone Baltimore could count on. However, the other younger candidates in this district make it so unique as Anthony Hamilton and Jamaal Simpson are both great young men themselves, along with Republican candidate Shereese Maynard-Tucker; all of whom I’ve met with personally and discuss politics and the issues of the 2nd – though I’m sure the other candidates are great as well?
Council District incumbent Robert ‘Bobby’ Curran seems to have re-election on lock, though he has been in this office forever, and this district has certainly gained a lot more African American voters who’d much rather have someone who looks like them in there. The problem is, Curran represents major citywide issues in which he promptly makes sure his name and face are in the press regarding these issues; thus making him harder to beat as he does tell-it like it is, while having no problem voting for or introducing bills for community groups. George Van Hook, former city school board member, has run a fairly decent campaign, even raising money and touching voters the way one has too in terms of trying to unseat an incumbent; yet don’t believe he has enough name recognition and/or political power to overcome the political dynasty of the Currans? Having raised approximately $28K, while his opponent filed an affidavit saying he didn’t raise or spend over $1,000, it’s obvious to see who comes out of this district victorious on Election Day! Also running in the General Election is the young Republican candidate Gary Collins. A big surprise though was a $3,000 slate contribution to Curran from Council President Jack Young, as Curran was in Young’s political doghouse for sometime, based on the Cole fight early last year; proving once again the old adage in politics – ‘There are no permanent friends or enemies, rather permanent interests’.
Council District incumbent Bill Henry would seemingly have the most to worry about in terms of a challenger. Having faced Scherod Barnes once before in the 2007 council race, the first year Henry got into the council; this second election for Henry is critical, for in political terms once a person wins election for two terms straight, they virtually solidify their incumbency status which they then become harder and harder to beat. Though Barnes came in a distant second in that ’07 election, he has since been a brief interim state representative taking the seat of outgoing 43rd district delegate Ann Marie Doory, before being replaced by Mary Washington after last year’s election in which Barnes did NOT run for the seat. However, he still had a brief moment of service to some of the 4th district voters in his role as delegate of this Northeast constituency, thereby giving him an even greater shot at victory this time around. However, despite the name recognition and longtime political campaigning expertise of Henry’s father and the incumbency of Bill Jr., the fundraising totals have went to Barnes raising $25K, on top of the $8K he had; spending $19K and leaving him with $14K cash-on-hand for poll workers and more – $10K more than Bill Henry. And of that money, Barnes has already paid for direct mailing which is quite costly, thereby leaving this race of great interest. Article to follow later this week!
Council District incumbent Rochelle ‘Rikki’ Spector is probably secure to win another election, her (100th) re-election campaign since her initial appointment to the office in 1976. Though I have yet to hear more discern or criticism regarding one council candidate than I do when its comes to the old time politico Spector, especially given her arrogant and flagrant residency issue, waving it in the district voters face that she does not live in the district in which she represents; I have yet to see a credible candidate file to run against her! Go figure? The only candidate I have met credible enough to take a stab at unseating the incumbent is Scott Carberry, though he hasn’t made great in-roads into being that candidate?
This race lacks the interest that most would have thought, based on two great community organizers and advocates vying for the council seat being held by first term councilwoman Sharon Green-Middleton. Though Rhonda Wimbish and friend Mark Hughes have the solid credentials of speaking truth to power in terms of what is needed in this Northwest Baltimore district; most community leaders and voters are convinced that Middleton has been doing a superb job in terms of representing their interests. Having traveled throughout the biggest chunk of the district, Park Heights; it was hard to find any particular group of residents severely upset or angered at the councilwoman, as more were concerned with the top brass lack of leadership from the top – i.e. Governor and Mayor (Bonnie and Clyde). While making some great points at debates and forums in terms of needed change into certain city services and community related needs, neither could actually make the point as to why they would better service this district as opposed to Middleton. Hearing the only real complaint being thrown out against the incumbent, being that of her husband becoming a “liability and obvious conflict of interest” based on his leadership at the powerful union known as AFSCME, this electorate knew such relationship existed when they elected her in 2007 and don’t believe it will be enough to oust her in this year’s 2011 elections. Not to mention that Middleton has raised $30K, on top of the existing $20K she had, spending only $21K and leaving $34K cash-on-hand; it goes way beyond the total fundraising efforts of Wimbish and Hughes combined $2,000 total!
This is certainly been one of the more interesting races to watch, as council incumbent Belinda Conaway is being challenged by quiet a few other credible challengers – one in particular. Having received the backing of the Mayor, as well as the powerful endorsement of the AFL-CIO union endorsements usually given to sitting incumbents; Nick Mosby took a considerable chunk out of the Conaway possibility of re-election. Also, after just recently dropping the ridiculous lawsuit filed against my Examiner colleague Adam Meister, who only wrote about her obvious ‘other’ residency being outside her district lines – in which she adamantly denies – this race is full of fun and juicy gossip and political theater. Yet, while Conaway has never been a great fundraiser, her last name is synomous with elective office in this City, and having been a fairly decent councilwoman, I find it hard to believe that someone as unknown as Mosby, or even other great challengers such as Henry Brim, Tim Mercer or Allen Hicks; can actually become triumph in a process that is more known as popularity contest rather than an issue based selection? Though I believe that each would make a great representative, including Belinda who has been present and accounted for, along with introducing radical policies others on the council wouldn’t even consider touching; I just don’t think her residency issue is that big of a deal to most 7th district voters? Having raised $9400 while only spending $550 thus far, the $8800 dollars is only a little more than Mosby’s $5,000 cash-on-hand leading into this sure to be contentious Primary Election.
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