Four years ago, Mary Pat Clarke was Baltimore's quintessential political outsider, announcing her candidacy for City Council president at Abbottston Elementary School before a small crowd of campaign volunteers and fifth-graders.
The scene was much different yesterday when Mrs. Clarke kicked off her re-election campaign with 1,200 supporters at an outdoor fund-raiser under a tent at Cathedral and Eager streets that pumped $35,000 into her campaign's coffers.
Though Mrs. Clarke still described herself as an outsider, the City Council president was surrounded by elected officials as she announced her candidacy.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was there. So was former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns, who is running against Mr. Schmoke.
Also in attendance: Eleven of Mrs. Clarke's 18 council colleagues, Baltimore's two congressmen, Kweisi Mfume and Benjamin L. Cardin, and several members of Baltimore's General Assembly delegation.
"Things are different because Mary Pat's an incumbent with four years of experience," said her campaign manager, state Delegate Kenneth C. Montague.
But Mrs. Clarke, 50, said she still considered herself "the eternal outsider" despite the advantages of incumbency.
"There are always establishment forces trying to push me out, so we're always pushing back," she said as she greeted supporters. "This is a grass roots crowd."
So far, no Democrats have come forward to challenge Mrs. Clarke, who edged out state Delegate Larry Young and state Sen. Harry McGuirk in a tough, three-way race in 1987. But Mr. Montague said he expects opposition to emerge before Friday's filing deadline.