Clarence H. Du Burns, outmaneuvering several dissident board members, has secured the mayoral endorsement of the Eastside Democratic Organization, a political club he founded 23 years ago.
L "I'm like Gorbachev. I beat the coup," Burns said yesterday.
Burns, who is attempting an uphill comeback after his 1987 defeat at the hands of Kurt L. Schmoke, said EDO voted 52-0 Sunday to endorse him in the Sept. 12 primary.
EDO's vote came just weeks after the club's executive board, which is chaired by Burns, deadlocked on the endorsement.
Burns had failed to lock up his club's endorsement earlier because some of EDO's leading members are supporting Schmoke. Some said that Schmoke represents the city's future. Others were more pragmatic: They said they're for the mayor because he's the incumbent and controls jobs and funds.
Several EDO members have city jobs and said they're thankful that Schmoke has not fired them even though they had worked against his election in 1987.
Also, the East Baltimore Community Corp., an EDO offshoot, runs a drug-treatment program for which the city controls some of the funding.
"You have to understand, nobody there hates me," Burns said. "They were doing things because of reasons. They felt like they had to do what they did."
EDO originally was scheduled to make its endorsement in September. But Burns used his power as chairman to call for the endorsement vote last Sunday at Waters A.M.E. Church in East Baltimore.
Burns got around the deadlocked board by writing a letter to members, asking for a membership vote without a recommendation from the board. His supporters turned out for Sunday's meeting and the vote.
EDO Secretary Nathaniel J. McFadden had tried unsuccessfully
tTC to head off Burns' effort by saying there would be no endorsement vote.
"He has a problem; I don't know what his problem is," Burns said of McFadden, a city school system employee and former Burns protege who once served on the City Council.
McFadden could not be reached for comment.
The Burns candidacy has caused problems among EDO stalwarts.
Marie J. Washington, vice president of EDO and head of the community corporation, said she knew nothing of the vote before it occurred.
Burns said the voting session was chaired by former state Sen. Robert L. Douglass, a founding EDO member whom Burns said is a vice president of the club. But Douglass said he is not an officer of the club.
Paula Johnson Branch, the EDO president and a 2nd District City Council candidate, acknowledged that Washington is vice president "unless Du plans to fire her or something."
Douglass said the confusion over EDO's mayoral endorsement was not that unusual. "Sure, there were people here who wanted to support Schmoke," he said. "But we had to deal with that democratically."