How much would it cost for a challenger to go after Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke?
Clarence H. "Du" Burns, a former mayor who narrowly lost in 1987, says he is aching to try again but needs "$500,000 in the bank up front." He had a fund-raiser this week -- to try to erase campaign debts from his last campaign.
Boyse F. Mosley, the outspoken principal of Northwestern High School, says that if he can collect $150,000 for a campaign nest egg, he will run against the first-term mayor. "The question is money," Mr. Mosley says. "That's what it all hinges on mainly."
Meanwhile, Mr. Schmoke so far has collected more than $760,000. His re-election campaign has not even gotten started but the betting on the street is that the incumbent mayor will end up raising at least $1.5 million.
We mention all these dollar figures as a perspective on news stories about Messrs. Burns' and Mosley's mayoral dreams. We haven't even mentioned the ticking clock yet. Even with a hefty campaign war chest, it is getting to be so late that it will be very difficult, particularly for a first-timer, to organize a campaign that would threaten the incumbent mayor's re-election chances. Nevertheless, says Schmoke campaign adviser Larry Gibson, "we proceed from the assumption that he will have opposition."
Anything can happen between now and next September. But unless the brave talkers get fire into their belly -- and, above all, develop good issues -- Mr. Schmoke looks like a shoo-in for a second term. If that happens, his cash-rich campaign could emerge as a kingmaker in determining outcomes in such highly contested races as the forthcoming vacancy for the city comptroller's office and the 18 City Council seats.