Burns mayoral bid lacks supporters, money Former allies on sidelines

club's stance is undecided.

August 08, 1991|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Evening Sun Staff

As he battles incumbent Kurt L. Schmoke for the Democratic mayoral nomination, many of Clarence H. Du Burns' longtime political allies are on the sidelines, or in Schmoke's camp.

The Eastside Democratic Organization, a political club that Burns chairs and helped found more than 20 years ago, has yet to officially back him, adding to the difficulties he faces as the campaign winds toward the Sept. 12 primary.

"Things and times change," said former Councilman Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Burns protege and an EDO board member. "I think we'd set an awfully terrible precedent if we reject Schmoke's candidacy. We're looking forward to the future. And Kurt represents the future."

EDO President Paula Johnson Branch, a 2nd District City Council candidate who a Burns aide when he was mayor in 1987, says the club has not yet focused on the mayoral race.

"We hope to get to those endorsements later this month," Branch said.


That position is surprising to many political observers,

who assumed that EDO would be at the heart of the Burns campaign.

"Du is EDO," said Councilman Carl Stokes, D-2nd, a former EDO member. "They should have been out front for Du Burns months ago."

EDO's uncertainty on its mayoral endorsement also illustrates the advantages Schmoke holds over Burns. And the most powerful may be incumbency.

"There is no question in my mind that [EDO] will endorse me," Burns said last night. "If people think otherwise, they're crazy. But there are a lot of people in the club who are nervous about these things because their jobs and things may be at stake."

EDO members acknowledge that practical considerations make an all-out effort for the 72-year-old Burns unwise. They also say that Schmoke has not threatened any jobs.

But Schmoke is the incumbent and in control of money and jobs, and some of each flow to EDO members or organizations operated by members of the club.

For instance, Del. Hattie N. Harrison, D-City, an EDO board member who helped form the club, works for Schmoke as a representative at the Dunbar mayor's station in East Baltimore.

The city also holds sway over funds that go to the East Baltimore Drug Abuse Center, which serves 400 addicts and is run by the East Baltimore Community Corp., an EDO offshoot.

EDO members say they are thankful Schmoke has not cut off the funds that go to the center.

"We appreciate the fact that the mayor recognizes that we provide valuable services," said Marie Washington, vice president of EDO and president of the community corporation. "That kind of thing makes it hard for us to say we can't support the mayor."

Schmoke also has other advantages. He has raised more than $1 million, and he has raked in many endorsements including those from the AFL-CIO, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Baptist Ministers Conference.

Burns has raised far less money and has won few endorsements. He has lost some key supporters over the past four years.

Raymond V. Haysbert, the Parks Sausage Co. executive who was Burns' campaign chairman and a major fundraiser in 1987, is now supporting Schmoke.

"This time, the choice is not between an experienced veteran and a neophyte," Haysbert explained. "Kurt has experience now and should be a much better mayor in his second term. To an extent, he has learned what not to do."

The Rev. Wendell H. Phillips, who managed Burns' campaign in 1987, says he still supports Burns but has no time to work closely with the campaign.

"I'm doing some stuff," Phillips said, such as speaking to small groups in Burns' behalf. "But I could not physically handle working in the guts of the campaign this time."

For McFadden, who calls Burns "a classy leader, a classy individual," the fact that some former Burns stalwarts now are supporting Schmoke is a natural outgrowth of the practical politics that his mentor advocates.

"EDO is definitely going in a different direction," McFadden said. But it's what Du taught me. Du taught me a lot of things, and one of them was to look to the future."

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