Annapolis mayor, with no major controversies, wins re-election Opponents had few issues

November 04, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

For two months, Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins' opponents criticized him as a poor leader with 20-20 hindsight and no foresight. But when the last ballot had been counted Tuesday night, it was their vision that appeared to have been blurred.

Former mayor and political independent Dennis Callahan and Republican Laurance Vincent each appeared confident he would the one to edge out the incumbent Democrat who had beaten them in separate races four years earlier.

On the campaign trail, they had expounded on what they saw as the failings of the Hopkins administration -- from increasing crime in residential neighborhoods to traffic congestion. But a large block of voters saw things differently.

A Ward 6 Republican who voted across party lines summed up Mr. Hopkins' appeal: "Al used to umpire my Little League games, taxes didn't go up and nobody got laid off during the recession."

Mayor Hopkins, 68, who served on the City Council for 24 years before winning the chief executive's job in 1989, won 46 percent of the 8,229 votes cast and seven of the city's eight wards. Although he did not win a majority, the incumbent received half again as many votes as his nearest rival.

Mr. Callahan, who narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Mr. Hopkins four years ago, captured 30 percent of the vote.

Mr. Vincent, who had received 41 percent of the vote in the last general election, where there were only two candidates, got 25 percent this time.

Mayor Hopkins expressed surprise at the margin of his victory, but other Democratic officials were less impressed.

The mayor's opponents never found an issue that galvanized or energized the public, said state Sen. Gerald Winegrad, an Annapolis Democrat who backed Mr. Hopkins.

"There was no major controversy around Al," Mr. Winegrad said. "Al's opponents were trying to make some sort of controversy, talking about his leadership and his vision, but people get tired of hearing candidates quibble over style."

Consequently, the senator said, "It wasn't an election that a lot of people were interested in."

It appeared early Tuesday that voters were staying away from the polls, but small lines started forming at some precincts as residents came home from work. By the time the polls closed at 8 p.m., about 48 percent of the city's 17,255 voters had cast ballots -- slightly more than had voted in the previous two elections.

Republican officials were dismayed by the Mr. Hopkins' easy victory over their candidate. Although all three incumbent Republican aldermen won re-election handily, the Democrat carried their wards.

"I guess the message that 'City Hall is Broken' didn't hit home," said Alderman M. Theresa DeGraff, a Ward 7 Republican, referring to Mr. Vincent's campaign theme.

Mr. Vincent's supporters had counted on him receiving the same 41 percent of the vote he received in 1989, said Alderman John Hammond, a Ward 1 Republican. "But it appears now that a lot of the support he got [then] was from disaffected Callahan voters. With Mr. Callahan making it a three-way race as an independent, he took them back this time."

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