Clarke reveals intention to run for mayor in 1995 Bid by Schmoke would not deter her

September 14, 1993|By Eric Siegel and Michael A. Fletcher | Eric Siegel and Michael A. Fletcher,Staff Writers

Baltimore City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, whose political skirmishes with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke have grown more frequent and bitter, says she intends to run for mayor in 1995 even if Mr. Schmoke is in the race.

The second-term City Council president said "it's a very sure shot" that she will seek the mayor's office in 1995, even if it means running against Mr. Schmoke, who for the past several months has been contemplating a bid for governor next year.

"My plans are as sure as plans can be that people make," said Ms. Clarke, adding that she could not foresee any circumstances in which she would run for council president again instead of running for mayor.

"I have to just move forward as best I can and let everyone else do what they will and see what happens."

Ms. Clarke's statements about her political plans for 1995, made in interviews with The Sun, mark the first time she has said publicly that she would consider challenging Mr. Schmoke for the city's highest office.

In the past, Ms. Clarke has said that she would not oppose Mr. Schmoke in a Democratic primary. She strongly supported Mr. Schmoke for mayor when he first ran in 1987, but since then their relationship has soured.

Frequent clashes

The mayor has frequently clashed with Ms. Clarke over issues ranging from school privatization to property taxes.

During the 1991 campaign, he accused Ms. Clarke of working covertly to thwart his re-election.

The mayor announced last winter that he was considering a gubernatorial run in 1994 to succeed Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who is nearing the end of his two-term limit. The mayor said last week he was nearing a decision, but he has not yet declared his candidacy.

One of the factors weighing against his running, according to sources close to the mayor, is his reluctance to leave the city government in the hands of Ms. Clarke.

If Mr. Schmoke runs for governor and wins, Ms. Clarke would automatically become mayor to fill out the remaining 10 months of Mr. Schmoke's term.

Last week, Mr. Schmoke and Mr. Schaefer, who frequently have been at odds, held a highly publicized meeting and walking tour of the Inner Harbor, fueling speculation that the governor would back a Schmoke gubernatorial candidacy and might be eyeing a return to the mayor's seat he held from 1971 to 1986.

Yesterday, the Schmoke camp reacted with equanimity to Ms. Clarke's statements.

"It's a free country and she is perfectly free to run for any office she chooses," said Larry S. Gibson, Mr. Schmoke's campaign chairman. "Certainly the mayor, whether he runs for governor or mayor again, does not expect to run unopposed. Likewise, I'm sure Mary Pat in running for office would not expect to run unopposed.

"The most consequential significance of her statement is that she appears to have removed herself from contention for another term as president of the City Council. Now, other candidates can step forward."

Colleagues not surprised

Ms. Clarke's council colleagues and others said they were not surprised by her statements.

"A lot of people assumed that that was what she was going to do next," said City Councilman Lawrence A. Bell III, D-4th.

Added Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, D-2nd: "She's had her eye on this prize for a long time. She's ready to move up.

"It only surprises me that she would articulate it. Maybe she's saying it because she's trying to get Schmoke off the fence."

City Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean, who's considered a potential candidate for mayor in 1995 should Mr. Schmoke become governor, said, "It's no big deal to me. You'd have to be blind not to recognize that she's been running [for mayor] for the last five years."

Ms. Clarke, 52, said in the interviews that she expected Mr. Schmoke to run for governor and win. She said she thought he'd be "a good governor" and would be "especially helpful to education" but said she'd want to talk to him about what he would do before giving him a formal endorsement.

The former two-term 2nd District councilwoman also speculated that were Mr. Schmoke to run for governor and lose, he might not seek a third mayoral term after what is shaping up as a potentially bruising Democratic primary.

That race will involve announced candidates Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening and Montgomery County state Sen. Mary H. Boergers. The general election could prove to be even tougher.

Ms. Clarke said the very talk of a Schmoke gubernatorial campaign made her solidify her own plans.

"Things are in motion. I'd like to be part of that motion. You can't be part of that motion by sitting back and watching everybody and waiting for the invitation. I've got to move now," she said.

She also said she is motivated to run for mayor in 1995 "because of a sense of urgency about the city. We need to do some jump-starting. That's not a criticism of anyone.

"I feel it's worth a try. I feel I really need to try. I may not win.

8, "But I have to give it a try," she said.

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