As the Sept. 12 primary approaches, wagers are being made about the outcome of Democratic City Council races in the First, Second, Third and Sixth districts. GOP strategists are secretly rooting for long-time incumbents because that could make the Nov. 7 general election more exciting. "For Republicans to win, we need to have incumbents because they have a record," explains David Blumberg, chairman of the city's Republican Party.
No Republican has served on the Baltimore City Council since 1942, but several Republican candidates now are acting as if they truly believe the return of a viable two-party system is possible.
In Northeast Baltimore's Third District, Elaine E. Urbanski, a spunky Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. employee, and James W. Sims-El, a General Motors worker and minister of the Moorish Science Temple, have campaigned with vigor and intelligence. Although redistricting greatly weakened the district's Republican potential, they think Democrats are vulnerable.
Republican prospects are even dimmer in the First District. But Leo Wayne Dymowski, a lawyer, and James H. Styles Jr., a home improvement contractor, have added some excitement to otherwise dull evenings out on the hustings.
When asked on which City Council committee he would want to serve, Mr. Dymowski told one forum he wanted to be on the "farewell committee to Mayor Schmoke and Mary Pat Clarke."
While Mr. Dymowski clearly has forged himself an identity through his quick responses and campaign gimmicks, it may not be exactly the image that wins elections. Yet he seems to think that a Republican's chances are so slim against better-financed Democratic candidates that any attention he gets is good.
The city's 281,779 registered Democrats dwarf the 30,533 Republicans. This year, the GOP is hoping to get some extra strength from 12,000 voters registered as independents by allowing them to cast a ballot in the Republican primary.
As long as the party's councilmanic primaries remain uncontested, interest in GOP politics is likely to stay low. The party's vigorous mayoral primary race has already shaken the old-guard from its lethargy, however, and young candidates have brought some young activists to the party. These are trends that are heartily welcomed by all who believe in a viable two-party system.