Still a contest

October 03, 1991

With registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans 9-to-1 in Baltimore city, general elections here tend to be somewhat perfunctory. Baltimore hasn't elected a Republican mayor in decades, and it's been half a century since the last GOP City Council candidate took office.

Yet the GOP continues to challenge Democrats in local elections, often with thoughtful candidates whose views certainly deserve a hearing. This year Anthony Cobb, a genteel, transplanted Tennessean who now lives in West Baltimore's Irvington community, is waging an uphill battle against Democrat Mary Pat Clarke for council president. Cobb, a self-described liberal Republican, has some sound ideas about how the council could play a more effective oversight role in fiscal matters. Another impressive GOP candidate is Elaine Urbanski, a Baltimore native and BG&E community relations specialist who is running for City Council from the 3rd District.

City Republicans face such tough odds that their campaigns almost inevitably take on a quixotic tinge. Ultimately, however, citizens lose when politics becomes a one-party affair.

Voters are entitled to hear candidates from both parties debate the issues before election day. Mayor Schmoke set an example by agreeing to square off with his GOP opponent, Samuel A. Culotta, before Nov. 5. Let other city Democrats do the same. Sooner or later the people will reject any party that wins largely by ignoring the opposition -- even if that party is the Democrats in Baltimore city.

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