Jacqueline McLean's Triumph

September 14, 1991

Councilwoman Jacqueline McLean's convincing victory in the three-way Democratic race for city comptroller was a prime example of the new political dynamics in the city. She had the black vote nailed down and received substantial support from white organizations. If she is elected in November, two of the top three citywide officers in the municipal government will be black for the first time in Baltimore's history.

Some political strategists feel that Kurt L. Schmoke will be a two-term mayor and then try something else. He might run for the U.S. Senate (although Rep. Kweisi Mfume also is making plans). He might run for governor or lieutenant governor. In any case, jockeying for the mayor's job is expected to begin immediately after the formalities of the Nov. 5 general election. Whether she encourages it or not, Jacqueline McLean will be seen as a prime contender.

In recent months, she has played coy when asked about her possible mayoral designs. Earlier she spoke of her ambitions quite openly. She once even said that her first official act would be to close all the public schools for a week -- just to show that her administration is bent on fundamental reorganization.

Along with the mayor, the City Council president and two mayoral nominees, the city comptroller sits on the powerful Board of Estimates. Ms. McLean would be voting on crucial city issues with Mayor Schmoke and Council President Mary Pat Clarke, if all of them are elected in November.

It is no secret that Ms. Clarke also wants to be the mayor after Mr. Schmoke. With Ms. Clarke and Ms. McLean trying to upstage one another (or Mayor Schmoke), Board of Estimates meetings might quickly become the best entertainment in town.

Although a competent Republican, Anthony D. Cobb, is running against Ms. Clarke for City Council president in November, almost no one expects her to lose. During the next four years, she will have to deal with a far more independent and vocal council than before. Democratic nominees Martin O'Malley, John Cain and Councilman Wilbur E. "Bill" Cunningham will see to that. It won't be politics as usual.

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