Biracial politics matter of conviction in 2nd District Incumbent Ambridge and challenger Branch win clubs' endorsements.

August 06, 1991|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Evening Sun Staff

Proclaiming that biracial coalition politics is alive and well in Baltimore's 2nd Councilmanic District, the Eastside Democratic Organization has endorsed incumbent Anthony J. Ambridge and upstart Paula Johnson Branch.

The two City Council candidates were also endorsed by the mostly white and liberal New Democratic Club, popularly known as NDC-2. That club endorsed incumbent Carl Stokes as well, but he objected to working for Branch. Stokes said he is supporting Bernard Young, a member of his mostly black political club, East End Forum.

"We are a coalition and we are running together from beginning to end," Ambridge said of Branch. "This is not an arrangement of convenience. It is one of conviction."

The 2nd District's black voting age population was slightly reduced by redistricting this spring to 63 percent black. As a result, Branch's supporters say, they need Ambridge's help to garner white support in the western edge of the district. Likewise, Branch's support can help Ambridge in the mostly black western portion of the 2nd.

Ambridge and Branch said yesterday that they are committed to furthering the 2nd District's history of biracial politics. In the early 1970s, EDO, a mostly black club, and NDC-2 gained national attention by coming together behind biracial tickets for the City Council and state legislature.

A coalition is considered vital to having an integrated team of council members and bridging racial gaps in the district.

The team, which has been working together for a couple of weeks, officially kicked off the joint relationship with a short parade led by a marching band near Branch's headquarters in the 1500 block of E. North Ave.

EDO officials said that they are reserving judgment on the third slot on their City Council ticket, in part because they hope that they can reach an accommodation with Stokes.

"Right now, EDO has endorsed two candidates and it will remain that way," said former Councilman Nathaniel McFadden, Branch's campaign manager. "To date, [Stokes] has indicated he is not interested. We are going to work with people who will work with us."

For his part, Stokes says he intends to continue to run a solo campaign. He, however, is helping Young and has spent several weeks campaigning with him. But Stokes said he and Young are maintaining separate campaigns at least until East End Forum makes endorsements later this month.

"I'm running alone. I'm not involved in ticket-making right now," he said.

Stokes also said that he expects to be carried on the NDC-2 ticket. "I can't imagine that I won't be on the NDC-2 ballot," he said.

NDC-2, however, has said that its endorsement is contingent on all the council candidates working together. Branch and Ambridge, for instance, are now campaigning together all over the district.

"I really don't know exactly what that condition means," Stokes said. "I still think there will be room for an Election Day ticket."

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