Schmoke wins easily GOP race close

absentees tallied Turnout low but exceeds predictions Mayor gets 57% of vote to beat top rival Burns.

September 13, 1991|By Michael A. Fletcher | Michael A. Fletcher,Evening Sun Staff

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke powered his way to an impressive victory in the Democratic mayoral primary, squelching his major opponents, whom he described as the "tired old voices from the past."

Schmoke rolled to the November general election with 57.5 percent of the vote last night. The mayor received 61,681 votes and beat his closest rival, former Mayor Clarence H. Du Burns, by almost 30,000 votes or nearly a 2-1 margin, according to the board of election's unofficial tally released early today.

Burns received 31,748 votes -- 29.6 percent of the 107,193 ballots cast -- while former State's Attorney William A. Swisher finished a distant third, with 10,482 votes, or 9.7 percent.

Overall, about 35 percent of Baltimore's 312,000 registered Republicans and Democrats voted in yesterday's election. That showing surpassed predictions by election officials who feared an abysmal turnout -- perhaps lower than 30 percent -- because of a lackluster mayoral campaign. Turnout was about 38 percent in the Democratic primary.

Talk of a boring campaign did not bother Schmoke, who was surrounded by family members and close staff members as he triumphantly greeted supporters at the Baltimore Grand catering hall on West Fayette Street.

"People said the campaign was not entertaining," said Schmoke, who campaigned confidently and methodically throughout the summer. "I'm Kurt Schmoke. I'm not Arsenio Hall."

The mayor said that he wanted to run a "positive" campaign, which contributed to the perception of a dull race. "We put out our record. We went and talked to people," Schmoke said. "We stayed positive and we got a positive response."

The loss left Burns, who turns 73 today, deflated.

Looking tired, Burns offered no concession speech. And he said this was his last attempt at elective office. "I won't concede because [my campaign workers] don't want me to concede," he said. I'm not going to bust their bubble. . . ."

Schmoke will face off against the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 5 general election. The top three contenders for the Republican mayoral nomination were within 40 votes of one another last night.

Samuel A. Culotta, Joseph A. Scalia and Bruce K. Price each finished with 27 percent of the votes cast yesterday. As a result, the election will be decided by 770 absentee ballots, which is about 15 percent of the Republican vote.

Whoever emerges from the Republican field will face a steep uphill fight in the general election, because city Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than a 9-1 margin.

"We're very optimistically looking ahead to the general election," Schmoke said. "I don't know who we will run against, but whoever it is, they had better move aside."

In the City Council president's race, Mary Pat Clarke received 90 percent of the vote and romped to an easy victory over community activist Daki Napata. She battles Republican Anthony D. Cobb in the general election.

And in the race for the Democratic nomination for comptroller, Councilwoman Jacqueline F. McLean, outdistanced Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III and Register of Wills Mary W. Conaway by a surprisingly wide margin. McLean received 45,849 votes -- 48 percent of the vote; Landers had 31,880 votes -- 33 percent and Conaway received 16,134 votes -- about 17 percent. McLean now faces Republican Marshall W. Jones Jr. in the general election.

Redistricting was the biggest factor in the defeat of veteran 1st District City Council members Dominic "Mimi" DiPietro and John A. Schaefer. Both candidates did poorly in turf added to their council districts in redistricting.

Meanwhile, it was the black voters added to the 6th District by redistricting that spelled the apparent defeat of incumbent Edward L. Reisinger. The new council district lines, likewise, apparently helped make Melvin L. Stukes the first black council winner in the 6th District.

In winning the primary, Schmoke held commanding margins in Baltimore's black communities. He also benefited from the presence of Swisher in the race, who helped narrow Burns' vote total in some of the white, working-class neighborhoods Burns dominated during the 1987 primary.

Schmoke amassed a huge campaign war chest, raising some $1.6 million for his campaign. Even though more than $300,000 remained in the closing days of the campaign, Schmoke's handlers were so confident of victory that they did not mount a television ad campaign even as the mayor's opponents went into debt to pummel him through the airwaves. Schmoke decided to only use radio spots.

"There is more than one way to send out a message," said Larry S. Gibson, Schmoke's campaign manager, adding that he was not surprised at the mayor's margin of victory. "It is almost exactly what we thought."

Even as he celebrated his primary victory, Schmoke pointed out that a second term in office would bring huge challenges.

"As I went around the city, I heard that people want this to be a safer city, a cleaner city," Schmoke told his supporters. "I promise you, we'll do that."


Democratic *John B. Ascher ... ... ... ... .1,000 ... ... .0.93%

Clarence H. "Du" Burns ... ... 31,748 ... ... 29.61%

*Philip C. Dypsky ... ... ... ... .657 ... ... .0.61%

*Sheila Hopkins ... ... ... ... ...299 ... ... .0.27%

*Gene L. Michaels ... ... ... ...1,065 ... ... .0.99%

*Kurt L. Schmoke* ... ... ... ..61,681 ... ... 57.54%

*William A. Swisher ... ... ... 10,482 ... ... .9.77%

*Ronald W. Williams ... ... ... ...261 ... ... .0.24%

Republican *Roy F. Carraher Jr. ... ... ... ..497 ... ... .9.95%

*Samuel A. Culotta ... ... ... .1,351 ... ... .27.07%

*Dan Hiegel ... ... ... ... ... ...125 ... ... 2.50%

*Bruce K. Price ... ... ... ... .1,390 ... ... 27.85%

*William Edward Roberts Sr. ... ...277 ... ... .5.55%

*Joseph A. Scalia ... ... ... .. 1,350 ... ... 27.05%

Unofficial results. Votes tallied: 100%


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