Name games

July 08, 1994

Unlike Chicago, dead people seldom vote in Baltimore elections. That does not mean that the Monumental City is without traditions of skulduggery, though. Just ask Carl Stokes.

Mr. Stokes is the city councilman who wanted to go to the state Senate from East Baltimore's 45th District and then use his victory to build momentum for a campaign for City Council president.

Whether any of that is going to happen is now uncertain because a political unknown named Clyde A. Stokes filed to oppose him, thus effectively giving the election away to Nathaniel J. McFadden.

Filing name's-the-same candidates is a ploy that has been used often in Baltimore politics. It has worked well.

Just ask Carl Stokes. When he first ran for the City Council, he was able to narrowly defeat the incumbent Mr. McFadden because another McFadden, a political unknown, was in the race and siphoned off thousands of votes. As the old folks say: What goes around, comes around.

Names have always been important in Baltimore politics. Incumbent Hattie N. Harrison is seeking re-election in the 45th District, where a Hattie M. Harris is seeking a seat on the Democratic State Central Committee.

In West Baltimore's 44th District, Paul Cumberland is running for the Senate and Vickie Cumberland is running for the House. Both are from Pigtown. He is an employee of a truck rental company, she is an optical technician. They are a husband and wife. "If we were both elected, we more or less would have two votes for our particular district," Mr. Cumberland reasoned.

Because legislative districts were recently redrawn, almost anything could happen in some races. Many voters find themselves in districts with unfamiliar candidates and with changed borders. Again, names are important.

Ralph Hughes, the incumbent senator in West Baltimore's 40th District, has two opponents. One is Norman Brailey, the son of veteran politician Troy Brailey, who has never forgiven Mr. Hughes for unseating him four years ago.

In the neighboring 44th District, Clarence M. Mitchell IV is given a good chance of defeating one of the incumbent delegates. He was all of four years old in 1966, when he became a card-carrying member of his civil rights family's political organization. When he first ran for the Democratic Central Committee 12 years ago, he received more votes than any other candidate in his district.

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