Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes says he'll run for a state Senate seat in the fall and -- win or lose -- he hasn't ruled out the possibility that he'll be a candidate for City Council president in 1995.
Mr. Stokes, a 2nd District Democrat, says he plans to file today to run in September's Democratic primary election. He is seeking a Senate seat in the 45th District in East Baltimore.
If he wins the race for the seat now held by retiring state Sen. Nathan C. Irby Jr., Mr. Stokes could mount a run for the council presidency without running the risk of being out of office altogether if he lost his bid for the top council spot.
If he loses the Senate race, Mr. Stokes, a council member since 1987, still could use his council seat as launching pad for his quest for the council presidency.
The council presidency is considered up for grabs in 1995 because two-time incumbent Mary Pat Clarke has said she will challenge Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's bid for a third term.
Mr. Stokes and Councilwoman Vera P. Hall, a 5th District Democrat, said last fall that they would run for council president. Mr. Irby also has expressed interest in the council presidency.
"I need to take this [Senate race] and go with it and let '95 take care of itself," Mr. Stokes said yesterday. "After the election, I can begin to look to '95."
Also planning to file for the state Senate seat is Nathaniel J. McFadden, a counselor for a college scholarship program at Lake Clifton-Eastern High School and a former 2nd District councilman. Mr. McFadden lost his council seat to Mr. Stokes in 1987.
"I was surprised to hear he was running," Mr. McFadden said of Mr. Stokes. "He indicated he had his heart set on City Council president. But Carl sometimes marches to the drumbeat of a different drummer."
Mr. Stokes said he decided over the weekend to enter the state Senate race, after his East End Forum political club and Mr. McFadden's Eastside Democratic Club failed to reach an agreement to field a unified ticket.
Mr. Stokes would not have been part of the unified ticket, but he would have received the backing of both clubs in his bid for the council presidency. Mr. McFadden would have headed the ticket as the candidate for state Senate. But the plan snagged when the two clubs could not agree on the ticket's three candidates for House of Delegates, both men said.
"I had no intention of running for Senate until they said they were breaking the coalition," Mr. Stokes said.
Mr. Irby, a 12-year Senate veteran, said he would try to play the role of peacemaker. "I don't want to see the district torn apart," he said.
Mr. Irby, 62, a member of the Eastside Democratic club, served on the City Council from 1974 to 1982. While saying he was "95 percent sure" he not seek re-election to the senate seat, he left the door open to running again if a Stokes-McFadden race creates a "circus environment."