Clarke Declares for Mayor

September 15, 1993

Mary Pat Clarke's announcement that she will run for mayor of Baltimore in 1995 raises political pressures. She would be a formidable candidate.

Since she had a falling out with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke a few years ago, the energetic City Council president has been campaigning steadily. She easily outpolled Mr. Schmoke in popular votes during their respective re-election campaigns in 1991. She exudes ambition. She may not be overly popular among the establishment, but she gets a warm response from neighborhoods. She seems to care; she always seems to be there when help is needed.

Her timing is intriguing. Apparently worried that the recent reconciliation between Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Mayor Schmoke might involve some kind of political deal, she is trying to pre-empt the field by her announcement. By declaring this early, she hopes to shore up her own support by preventing community activists from committing themselves to anyone else, such as Mr. Schaefer, who is toying with the idea of making one more run for mayor in the city he loves.

All of this is somewhat premature, of course. But that's politics, which is no different from the stock market in that it has always operated on the basis of rumors and speculation. Risk-taking is rewarded; too much caution may prove to be costly.

Mr. Schaefer is prohibited by law from seeking another term as governor, but nothing prevents Mayor Schmoke from seeking a higher office. For months, he has been laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial campaign next year.

He has yet to announce his candidacy, but his self-imposed deadline is approaching. Mr. Schmoke has promised to make his plans known before his $500-a-plate fund-raiser in Baltimore Sept. 27.

In the past, Ms. Clarke maintained that she would never run against Mr. Schmoke as mayor. Now she says she will take a shot for the municipal chief executive's post regardless.

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

If Mr. Schmoke runs for governor and wins, Ms. Clarke would fill out his remaining 10 months as mayor. If he runs for governor and loses, she would be a constant thorn in his side. Neither of these possibilities pleases the mayor, who feels Ms. Clarke would not continue the course he has set for Baltimore City or keep his personnel. Those are some of the risks of politics.

The dominoes are waiting to fall in place. All eyes are now on Mr. Schmoke: Will he run for governor or won't he?

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