Schmoke, Clarke characterized as coolly cordial Rift reportedly began in summer

October 12, 1991|By Ann LoLordo H

When poll workers for Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke hand out Election Day ballots on Nov. 5, don't expect an endorsement for Mary Pat Clarke, the Democratic nominee for City Council president.

"It is unlikely that Mary Pat Clarke will be on the Schmoke ballot," Larry S. Gibson, the mayor's campaign manager and chief political strategist, said yesterday. "The relationship is certainly not one of political allies."

The rift between the city's two most popular politicians originated this summer with the Schmoke campaign's contention that Mrs. Clarke cost the mayor the endorsement of the New Democratic Club 2, an influential, Charles Village-based organization that was among Mr. Schmoke's first political supporters. The club issued a non-endorsement in the mayor's race.

Mr. Gibson said that the non-endorsement was "the most dramatic" example of Mrs. Clarke's working against the mayor's re-election. Mrs. Clarke has maintained that supporters of hers who did not endorse the mayor acted on their own account and "weren't doing anything on my behest or because of me."

Although Mr. Schmoke met with Mrs. Clarke earlier this week to ironout their differences, Mr. Gibson contends that they agreed only to work together on municipal business for the sake of the city. But he added, "They certainly did not have a political rapprochement."

Mrs. Clarke said last night that she and the mayor had reached an agreement on Election Day ballots. She said that she and the mayor have "made our peace."

"He said he would call Larry and prepare some ballots. If they have decided otherwise that has not been communicated to me. I have relied on the mayor's word and taken no other steps to put my name on the polls except as part of a joint ticket," said Mrs. Clarke. "This is silly stuff in the face of grave cuts facing the city of Baltimore. I refuse to buy into political adviser fights at a time when the mayor and I have agreed we are together for the city. This is no time for political dilettantes."

Efforts to check with Mr. Schmoke himself on the ballot dispute were unsuccessful.

In the general election, both Mr. Schmoke and Mrs. Clarke face opponents. The Republican nominees for mayor and council president are Samuel A. Culotta and Anthony Cobb, respectively.

In the September primary, Mr. Schmoke, who had much stronger opposition than Mrs. Clarke, received 61,681 votes; the council president received 76,327 votes. In the 1987 general election, Mr.Schmoke received 100,923 votes, compared to 102,715 for Mrs. Clarke.

When asked if a decision on Mrs. Clarke's placement on the Schmoke ballots could be linked to the possibility that she might outpoll the mayor on Election Day, Mr. Gibson said it "was not and is not a concern."

Whether or not Mrs. Clarke is on the Schmoke ballot won't affect her re-election, predicted Councilman Carl Stokes, D-2nd, an ally of hers.

"She has always wanted to be part of his team because she was looking to step into the mayor's spot after he left and then she would have her supporters as well as his," he said. "But for some reason the mayor's people don't want her. They have some paranoia about her."

If Mrs. Clarke is excluded from the Schmoke ballot, it will be a break from the past.

Traditionally in this overwhelmingly Democratic city, the Democratic nominee for mayor has organized ballots for the November general election as a "unity ticket" in which the nominees for the top three citywide offices and the 18 council seats appear on the same ballots.

But yesterday Mr. Gibson would only commit the Schmoke organization to this: the mayor, comptroller candidate Jacqueline F. McLean and the city bond issues. "We are now talking with the Democratic nominees for various council positions," he said. "It will be handled on a district-by-district basis."

In his four election bids, Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi, D-6th, said, the general Election Day ticket has always included all Democratic nominees. But he added that there is plenty of time for them to mend their political fences before Nov. 5.

The exclusion of Mrs. Clarke would be "an unnecessary departure," said Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, D-5th. "This is a wrong time for Democrats not to hang together."

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