Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke won the Democratic nomination for mayor last night, besting two longtime political rivals in his bid for a second term.
Former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns finished second, outpolling former State's Attorney William A. Swisher.
"I don't get any sense that I am in trouble," Mr. Schmoke had said during a noon visit to his North Charles Street campaign headquarters. "We have a real good organization that is going to produce a good turnout."
Meanwhile, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke jumped out to a 9-1 margin over her only rival, community activist Daki Napata.
However, the composition of the 19-member City Council appeared likely to change significantly, as two longtime east-side incumbents -- Dominic "Mimi" DiPietro and John A. Schaefer of the 1st District -- appeared in trouble in what has been the first primary election since last spring's divisive council redistricting.
Perhaps the most exciting contest of the day for voters -- who, for the first time since 1963, faced a ballot void of the name Hyman A. Pressman -- was a two-way dogfight over the nomination for comptroller featuring City Council members Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III and Jacqueline F. McLean.
In the Republican primaries, a surprisingly hard-fought contest for the mayoral nomination came down to a three-way race among Samuel A. Culotta, John A. Scalia and Bruce K. Price.
Anthony D. Cobb was unopposed in the GOP primary for City Council president. Likewise, Marshall W. Jones Jr. was unopposed in the GOP primary for comptroller.
The Republican winners will all go into the Nov. 5 general election as prohibitive underdogs in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 9-1 ratio.
Generally pleasant weather did nothing to improve what shaped up as a below-average voter turnout.
"I see no major enthusiasm out there," said Gene M. Raynor, thstate elections board chief. Mr. Raynor said the 15.9 percent turnout achieved by 3 p.m. yesterday was below the 19.8 percent turnout achieved at the same point four years ago.
With his Democratic primary victory, Mr. Schmoke took a majostep toward retaining the mayoral office he wrested from Mr. Burns in a narrow victory four years ago.
Mr. Burns -- the former council president who took over as mayoin 1987 when William Donald Schaefer left for the governor's mansion -- had hoped to prove that his ascension to the city's highest office was no fluke.
Mr. Swisher also had a political score to settle with Mr. SchmokeHe was ousted as Baltimore state's attorney by Mr. Schmoke in 1982.