The Socialist Workers Party may lack experience in running a city, the money for a news media campaign or the ability to score more than a tremor in the political polls, but it believes it has found the issue to sweep to victory in Baltimore's municipal elections this year: foreign policy.
"We want to run for as many offices as we can, so we can speak out against this war," said Margaret M. Kreiner, a 37-year-old New Jersey native who said she once ran for Congress in Kentucky and now plans to run for president of the Baltimore City Council. "We think it is not in the interests of working people in this country or the Arab countries."
Rashaad Ali, an unemployed meat packer who earlier this year had his eye on the governor's mansion, is running for mayor. He thinks the incumbent, Kurt L. Schmoke, should be talking more about U.S military spending because it diverts money that could help relieve poverty and other social problems that are devastating American cities.
"Basically, what I'm running for is to explain what this whole war thing means," Mr. Ali said on Tuesday, the day before U.S. warplanes attacked Baghdad to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait. "If the city is deteriorating, the schools getting worse, the housing getting worse, how can the people of the city benefit?."
Mr. Ali is only one of 10 Socialist Workers Party candidates who plan to run for municipal offices in November's general election. The party plans to run candidates for mayor, comptroller, council president and for seven seats on the City Council.
"We have a completely different attitude toward the office and elections," Ms. Kreiner said. "The way we look at it, if we got into the office, we would use the office to help working people organize."
Glen E. Swanson, 39, a steelworker who lives in Mt. Washington, says he wants to succeed Hyman A. Pressman as Baltimore's comptroller. He says he doesn't know much about the functions of the comptroller, who runs the city's audit and real estate departments and who also sits on the Board of Estimates.
"We have a slate of socialist candidates who will be running for city offices," Mr. Swanson said. "It just happens that I'm the one running for comptroller."
Does he know what the comptroller's office does?
"To some extent yes, but that is not what I'm prepared to talk about now," he said.
Still, he knows what he would do as comptroller, should he win. He says he would make the comptroller's office an anti-war office.
"This is the most important issue of the day," he said. "And that is what I'm going to be talking about."