When is an endorsement not an endorsement?
Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins has backed four people for the three-seat District 30 House of Delegates race, although politicians are divided over whether one of the pledges of support was really an endorsement.
Hopkins, a Democrat, has spoken favorably on several occasions of Republican Aris Allen, so favorably that newspapers reported the mayor's words as an endorsement when Allen announced his intention to run for the seat in April. Several officials, including the mayor's chief aide, also interpreted the mayor's words that way.
However, in a mailer sent to all District 30 voters last week, Hopkins endorsed the three Democratic candidates for District 30 -- incumbent Delegates John C. Astle and Michael E. Busch and candidate Edie Segree, who call themselves "Team 30." Hopkins had supported unsuccessful candidate Barbara Neustadt in the Democratic primary.
Hopkins did not say how his statements should be interpreted. "My only comment is that my endorsements were made a matter of public record," he said.
His chief aide, City Administrator Michael Mallinoff, said the Allen endorsement might have come with an expiration date -- the Sept. 11 Republican primary. "Al did endorse Aris in the primary, but I don't know how that translates to now," Mallinoff said.
Astle said it's what's on paper that counts.
"I've never seen it in writing anywhere that Al endorsed Aris," Astle said. "I know he's said some nice things about Aris that might be considered an endorsement, but I don't know if you could call it a formal endorsement."
Segree, however, saw things differently.
"It's true Al endorsed Aris," Segree said. "They've been good friends for a long time, but Al is also a Democrat, and he's decided to endorse Team 30, along party lines, and I'm pleased with that."
Allen, a former Annapolis state senator and delegate and one of two Republicans on next Tuesday's ballot, said he didn't think Hopkins had formally endorsed him. The other Republican candidate is Phil Bissett, of Mayo.
"I have never considered the mayor's words a formal endorsement," Allen said. "The mayor has made favorable statements about me on several occasions, and for that, I'm appreciative. I have no problems with what the mayor is doing."
However, Annapolis Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, said he thought a favorable statement Hopkins made at a luncheon in May qualified as an endorsement. "I can say without equivocation that the mayor endorsed Aris Allen," Snowden said.
Segree pointed out that Hopkins isn't the only one with nice things to say about the four candidates. The Annapolis Capital, in its editorial Monday, endorsed both Astle and Busch and added that either Allen or Segree would be a good addition to the State House.
"I think they're letting people make up their own minds," Segree said.