You name it, the 45th District has it CAMPAIGN 1994 -- HOUSE OF DELEGATES

September 04, 1994|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writer

An article on Baltimore's 45th Legislative District last Sunday should have said that the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance endorsed Nathaniel J. McFadden and one member of his ticket, Clarence "Tiger" Davis, not the entire ticket.

* The Sun regrets the error.

In the clannish, often quarrelsome political world of East Baltimore, a lot of the candidates this year have an odd thing in common. They share the same last name.

There's Robert Stokes, a 36-year-old community activist who headed a mayor's station until he decided to run for the state House of Delegates.


There's Clyde A. Stokes, a 52-year-old political unknown who remains something of a mystery since filing for state Senate in the name's-the-same tradition of city politics.

And there's Carl Stokes, a 44-year-old city councilman who entered the Senate race only after the two political organizations that dominate East Baltimore's 45th District failed to agree on fielding a unified ticket. The three candidates who share the Stokes name are unrelated. But the peculiarity that one-fourth of the 12 candidates seeking state office in the district have the same surname is only part of the intrigue.

There also are two feuding political clubs and two vying tickets -- one headed by Councilman Stokes and another by former City Councilman Nathaniel J. McFadden. Mr. Stokes unseated Mr. McFadden in 1987 in a similar name's-the-same campaign when a Harold McFadden ran.

State Sen. Nathan C. Irby, whose self-described "sabbatical" set up the tough race, is supporting Mr. McFadden for the state Senate. Mr. McFadden challenged him two terms ago. And so are some of Maryland's most powerful political figures, including Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Mr. Irby now says he is interested in running for the council presidency, a position Mr. Stokes had planned to seek. To an outsider, and even to some of the district's 40,000 registered voters, the race appears confusing. But Councilman Anthony J. Ambridge, a 2nd District Democrat, calls that ordinary.

"Half the time, you don't know the players unless you have a card," Mr. Ambridge said. "It's not unusual for there to be conflicting tickets from election to election. There's been a lot of people with similar names holding office, but the people in East Baltimore know the players."

The first twist in the campaign came not long after Mr. Irby announced that he would not seek a fourth term. Mr. Irby, who had split with the Eastside Democratic Organization, reunited with the club to back its choice of a successor for the state Senate -- Mr. McFadden.

Often rivals, the Eastside club and the newer East End Forum tried to join forces. But 10 days before the filing deadline, their fragile truce collapsed in a disagreement over the ticket's three candidates for the House of Delegates.

Both clubs had lost little time in selecting Hattie N. Harrison, a fixture in the House of Delegates since 1973, and newcomer Talmadge Branch. Councilman Stokes insisted that the third position go to his friend Robert Stokes. But Mr. McFadden's Eastside organization opted for Clarence Davis, a state delegate seeking his fourth term.

An annoyed Councilman Stokes formed a rival ticket with Robert Stokes and two newcomers -- Kelley Ray, an environmental and housing activist from Belair Edison, and Emmanuel S. Holmes, a tenant organizer from Gardenville.

One of the two-term councilman's biggest obstacles is the third Stokes, even though he remains largely an obscure figure.

Less than two weeks remain until the Sept. 13 primary, yet there have been no visible signs of the Clyde Stokes campaign. None of the election posters in front of the neatly kept homes and shops in his own Four-by-Four neighborhood bears his name. Nor do any of the leaflets handed out at street corners, churches and community centers. He has failed to show up for political forums and hasn't responded to voter questionnaires.

The other two candidates agree that they haven't seen much of Clyde Stokes. Nevertheless, Councilman Stokes recognizes the potential threat of confusion over the two names and has cried foul. He charges that "Clyde is not a legitimate candidate" and is in the race strictly to derail his campaign.

Mr. McFadden, 47, a counselor for a college scholarship program at Lake Clifton-Eastern High School, shrugs at the predicament.

"Maybe the same person is involved," he said with a smile. But he adds that he has seen no sign of Clyde Stokes. "Quite frankly, we're not looking for him," he said.

After a reporter left messages with East Baltimore community leaders and at an Eager Street bar, Clyde Stokes called this week to defend his candidacy.

A retired Bethlehem Steel worker who was a baseball and basketball standout at Dunbar High School, Mr. Stokes said he wants to make a difference in the deteriorating sections of East Baltimore.

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