Club declines to back Schmoke Democrat group that helped mayor in '87 refuses endorsement.

August 15, 1991|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Evening Sun Staff

The New Democratic Club-2, a political organization that was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in past elections, voted last night not to endorse the mayor, who is seeking re-election.

NDC-2, one of the major political organizations in the 2nd District, chose to endorse no one for mayor, a stand that Council President Mary Pat Clarke said leaves members free to support whomever they choose in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary.

"We were one of the first clubs to endorse the mayor in 1987," Clarke said. "But I guess there seems to be a number of people who perhaps are undecided about him now."

Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd, who is being backed by the club in his bid for re-election, said the club's decision reflects the "ambivalence" many members feel toward the mayor.

The vote last night came after NDC-2's board did not recommend any mayoral candidate for the club's endorsement. Forty-four voting members attended the meeting.

Asked to explain the difference between the club's view of Schmoke this year and in 1987, Ambridge replied wryly, "A completed term."

Sources said that the vote also reflects Clarke's view of Schmoke. Clarke was a strong supporter of Schmoke in his 1987 mayoral bid but has since become disenchanted with what she sees as his deliberate and uninspiring style, sources said.

Also, the board tried to win a commitment from the mayor that he not work against any of the City Council candidates endorsed by the club but he refused, a source said. And that may also have influenced the board not to recommend Schmoke for endorsement.

"There was some communication between the club and the mayor's campaign about to night's endorsement," said Awilda Marquez, president of NDC-2.

For her part, Clarke said she had no part in the board's decision.

"I really haven't been part of the board's meetings," she said. "I've been focusing on getting re-elected."

Asked about Clarke's role in the decision not to endorse Schmoke, Marquez first shrugged. Then she said, "She [Clarke] has a lot of influence on the general membership who was here . . . as well as on the board. Many of the people here are part of the campaigns of people the club supports. And they come supporting their candidates and their candidates' positions on other candidates."

NDC-2 also chose not to endorse a candidate for comptroller. The only citywide candidate to win an NDC-2 endorsement was Clarke, who faces only token opposition in her re-election bid.

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