Black voters show muscle in voting booth

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

Baltimore's black voters delivered huge majorities to Mayor ,, Kurt L. Schmoke, paving the way to his easy victory in the Democratic primary.

Schmoke won 80 percent or more of the votes in mostly black neighborhoods such as Northwood, Ashburton, Arlington and Forest Park in yesterday's election, according to an analysis by the city's election board.

Schmoke also did well in the city's upper-income white communities, including Mount Washington and Roland Park. Schmoke got close to 65 percent of the vote in both of those neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, Schmoke's principal challengers, Clarence H. Du Burns and William A. Swisher, often cut each other's throats in areas where they proved to be most popular -- poor and working class white communities.

"Everything that Swisher got [9.7 percent] was at the expense of Du Burns," said Arthur W. Murphy, a political consultant. "Every penny of it."

In the comptroller's race, Jacqueline F. McLean was propelled to the Democratic nomination by winning commanding margins in many of the city's black communities.

She also made decent showings in working-class, white communities where she was often the choice of political organizations.

In Ashburton, the home of challenger Mary W. Conaway, McLean walked away with 71 percent of the vote. In Arlington, she won 73 percent. Meanwhile, McLean won 20 percent of the votes in Canton, 21 percent in Brooklyn and almost 35 percent in Remington.

Runner-up Joseph T. "Jody" Landers III, typically ran first in white neighborhoods, but found trouble in black communities -- even those he served as a member of the City Council. For instance, in Northwood he received only 8 percent of the vote, and in Govans, he was the choice of just 21 percent of the voters.

Redistricting contributed to the political demise of 1st District incumbents Dominic Mimi DiPietro, a six-term veteran, and John A. Schaefer, a councilman for 20 years.

In the Waltherson neighborhood in northeast Baltimore, which is new to the district, Schaefer and DiPietro ran behind the winners by better than a 2-1 margin.

In Locust Point, which also was moved to the 1st by redistricting, Schaefer and DiPietro lost to the winners by more than a 3-1 margin. The two veterans even lost convincingly in Highlandtown and Canton, their former political strongholds.

Melvin L. Stukes, apparently the first black to win a Democratic primary in the 6th District, won despite getting few votes in white neighborhoods.

In Brooklyn, Stukes received just 70 votes compared to 741 votes for his nearest rival, incumbent Edward L. Reisinger.

But redistricting changed the district from 51 percent white to 58 percent black. And Stukes managed to run up impressive numbers in many black precincts.

The political landscape of the 3rd District also was changed by redistricting, going from 56 percent white to 59 percent black. But no black candidates won because they could not draw enough votes in white areas to compensate for the votes white candidates won in black neighborhoods.

The district's winners -- Martin E. Mike Curran, Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham and Martin O'Malley -- consistently won in the white precincts. But strong races by black candidates George E. Brent, Maegertha Whitaker, Nina Harper and Sylvia Williams tended to dilute their strength in black precincts.

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