Schmoke sees need for 'healing' after campaign CITY PRIMARY ELECTION 1995

September 14, 1995|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, basking in the glow of a 20-point victory Tuesday in the Democratic primary, spoke yesterday of the "need for some healing" after a campaign marked in part by questions about racial divisions and symbolism.

But Mr. Schmoke also said that African-Americans -- who for the first time in Baltimore history are likely, after the November election, to hold all three of the city's top elected offices and a majority of seats on the City Council -- want to be "full partners" in the city's economy and politics.

"There were some raw nerves exposed during the course of the campaign," Mr. Schmoke admitted during an early morning news conference at his campaign headquarters, just hours after the final tally of his landslide victory over Council President Mary Pat Clarke.

But Mr. Schmoke, who made history eight years ago by becoming Baltimore's first elected black mayor, added: "The healing has got to be done in a different fashion than in the past. That is, the white community must understand that the African-American community here is proud of its political leadership, looks forward to participating on an equal basis in the policies and economics of the city. And so if we're going to heal wounds, we've got to sit down and have some partners."

During the campaign, Mr. Schmoke was questioned about his use of Afro-centric campaign colors, and an unsuccessful white candidate for council president, 6th District Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi, said at one point that he would target only white voters. In addition, accountant Joan M. Pratt, a political novice who is black, received strong support among black voters to win the vacant city comptroller's seat over former state Sen. Julian L. Lapides, a white with a long history of voting for civil rights issues.

Analysts estimated yesterday that in the Democratic race for mayor, Mr. Schmoke got as much as 85 percent of the black vote, while Mrs. Clarke got about 75 percent of the white vote.

At his news conference yesterday, Mr. Schmoke said he thought he would work well with likely Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, with whom the mayor has been at odds in the past, and Ms. Pratt.

"I think it's going to be a good team for Baltimore," he said.

When President Clinton called him Tuesday night to congratulate him on his victory, the two discussed the need for mayors to lobby the Republican Congress "to keep some balance in their policies," Mr. Schmoke said.

"We know that there is a rightward movement, but it shouldn't lurch so far that it actually creates more problems than it solves."

After Tuesday's Democratic primary, the mayor said, "I do have to take some actions to make sure we come together."

But he also said: "There are some in the white community who lTC don't recognize the full partnership [with African-Americans], and there are others who are concerned about it.

"One orthodox rabbi was worried about the status of the African-American community as signaling an attempt to dominate," the mayor said. "What I tried to emphasize to him is that that's not our view at all. Our view is that we want to be partners.

"We're not seeking to control any other group or to denigrate their accomplishments," the mayor added. "But we just want to be full partners at the table with everyone. If that can be understood, then we can sit down and work together on planning the future of the city."

Mr. Schmoke said he would rely on religious leaders to help Baltimore achieve a "spirit of healing."

"The Pope's visit [next month] gives us an opportunity for that," the mayor said.

"I think we'll be able to work on this."

As he did throughout the campaign, Mr. Schmoke defended his use of red, green and black -- colors associated with African-American nationalism -- on his campaign literature, saying again that they were symbols "of pride and empowerment, not division."

"I never second-guessed the use of the colors," the mayor said.

PRIMARY WINNERS

Democratic primary winners of the past 52 years and percentage of the vote they received.

1943: Howard W. Jackson, 55%

1947: Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., 57%

1951: Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., 72%

1955: Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., 55%

1959: Harold Grady, 58%

1963: Philip H. Goodman, 51%

1967: Thomas J. D'Alesandro III, 72%

1971: William Donald Schaefer, 56%

1975: William Donald Schaefer, 89%

1979: William Donald Schaefer, 74%

1983: William Donald Schaefer, 72%

1987: Kurt L. Schmoke, 51%

1991: Kurt L. Schmoke, 58%

1995: Kurt L. Schmoke, 59%

All of Baltimore's Democratic mayoral primary winners went on to win the general election against their Republican challengers, with the exception of Philip H. Goodman and Howard W. Jackson. In the 1943 and 1963 general elections, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Goodman lost their mayoral bids to Republican candidate Theodore R. McKeldin.

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