Saying this is one campaign he is really going to enjoy, Clarence H. Du Burns kicked off his bid to become mayor of Baltimore again with a $100-a-ticket fund-raiser that was expected to draw in nearly $100,000 when all receipts are counted.
tTC "This time I will be an integral part of the campaign and I will run it my way," said Burns in the midst of a crowd of more than 500 well-wishers last night at Martin's West.
Burns, 72, longtime city councilman who was council president when he was appointed the first black mayor of the city in January 1987, narrowly lost his bid to be elected to a full four-year term that fall to State's Attorney Kurt L. Schmoke.
"In '87 I had to make the city work first, that was my first responsibility as mayor, then go out and campaign," Burns said. "That hurt my campaign. But this year, I don't have the responsibility of being mayor. I can run a free and easy campaign and I'm going to have fun."
Although during the past four years he often has expressed bitterness about his 5,000-vote loss, Burns said his decision to run was not made out of a desire for vengeance.
"If people out there hadn't told me there was a need to run, I wouldn't be here tonight," he said. "I've enjoyed the past four years. I don't have to do this."
Allen Quille, Burns' campaign manager, said a mix of old Burns supporters and new faces have come together to form his campaign team and "we'll run a straightforward campaign that will take the issues right to the mayor."
Schmoke has raised more than $1 million for his re-election campaign. During the 1987 race, the Schmoke campaign refrained from attacking Burns out of respect for his position as the first black mayor and his broad popularity. But sources close to the campaign said Burns this time would not be treated as gingerly.
Frank X. Gallagher, former City Council president and leader of the Gallagher-Cunningham political organization in northeast Baltimore, said Burns will be in for a tough race.
"But if anyone can hold the mayor's feet to the fire and make him defend his record, it is Du Burns," said Gallagher. He supported Burns in the 1987 campaign but declined to say last night whom his club will support this year.
Burns said that if he doesn't win "it won't be the end of the world for me."
"One thing you can count on is that we will make a decent race out of it," he said.