6th District club gives Schmoke a break, this time

July 22, 1991|By Patrick Gilbert and Michael A. Fletcher contributed to this column.

When Mayor Kurt Schmoke visited the 6th District's largest Democratic club recently, he noted that the club didn't endorse him in his 1982 campaign for city state's attorney nor did it support him in his mayoral race in 1987.

"How about giving me a break this year?" the mayor joked.

The Universal Democratic Club said yes.

"The mayor seems to have widespread support and he's got a good campaign organization behind him," says Jim Goble, president of Universal. "And he's going to win. Why back a loser?"

Goble says there was much discussion among the members whether to endorse Schmoke or former mayor Clarence H. Du Burns.

"Du has a lot of respect down here and we endorsed Du over Kurt in 1987," he says. "But . . . we see no evidence Du has much of a campaign organization or his campaign is making much headway."

Goble says Burns spoke to the club two months ago and "we haven't heard from him or his campaign ever since. When I've called his campaign headquarters, I never get my calls returned."

The Universal Democratic Club became the largest political club in the district when redistricting put the Stonewall Democratic Club into the 1st District.

Universal also endorsed incumbent Mary Pat Clarke for City Council president, Jacqueline F. McLean for city comptroller and the three incumbent 6th District councilmen, Timothy D. Murphy, Joseph J. DiBlasi and Edward L. Reisinger.

Equal opportunities:Equal opportunities: Kurt Schmoke, who likes to say he has been the equal opportunity mayor, now wants to be the equal opportunity candidate.

The mayor has received two invitations for mayoral debates, but he says he won't accept them unless all eight Democratic candidates can participate.

Schmoke says he will not get into a one-on-one debate with the man perceived as his top opponent, former Mayor Burns.

Burns and Schmoke squared off in a televised debate during the 1987 Democratic mayoral primary. And, many observers agreed, the meeting helped Burns. After trailing badly in early polls, Burns lost to Schmoke by 5,429 votes -- about three percentage points.

Schmoke says debate offers have come from WMAR-TV and the League of Women Voters.

"I will debate in a forum that includes all of the opponents," Schmoke says. He says Gov. William Donald Schaefer staked out a similar position when he was mayor in the 1983 campaign.

The result then was a televised debate widely viewed as a fiasco. It was dominated by the rantings of Monroe Cornish, a fringe candidate who offered his conspiracy theories on John Hinckley's attempt to assassinate then-President Reagan.

Keeping the faith:Keeping the faith: An estimated quarter-million people in the Baltimore area are said to be in church Sunday.

Little wonder, then, political endorsements of the Baptist Ministers Conference and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance are among the most coveted in the city.

But this year, several candidates in the Sept. 12 primary did not attend the interviews held by the two groups last week.

The reason?

"I just did not hear about the Baptist Ministers Conference meeting until it was too late," says Council President Mary Pat Clarke, who says she learned of the meeting Tuesday as it was in progress.

Clarke was not alone. Even several candidates who did make the meeting at West Baltimore's Enon Baptist Church said privately they found out about the meeting at the last minute and had to juggle schedules to get there.

Ditto for Thursday's meeting at the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance at Emmanuel Community Christian Church.

Despite the absence of many candidates, the endorsements are set to be announced this week. And the ministers did not want to hear any excuses from candidates.

"All of them had the same handicap," says one minister.

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