Young won't run again Ex-senator decides not to seek old seat, 2 close associates say

'Legal problems' blamed

Jefferies, Mitchell could face stiff fight for full term in Nov.

July 03, 1998|By William F. Zorzi Jr. and Thomas W. Waldron | William F. Zorzi Jr. and Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Michael Dresser contributed to this article.

Larry Young, who was expelled from the Maryland Senate in January for violating state ethics laws, has decided against running for his old seat in this year's election, according to two close associates.

Young, the target of federal and state criminal investigations into his business affairs, indicated that his "legal problems" were the basis for his decision, said Sen. John D. Jefferies, who was appointed to serve the remainder of Young's term.

"All he said was the race was open, since he was out of it," Jefferies said.

Another source close to Young also confirmed that the veteran ** politician has decided not to run.

Young did not return messages left yesterday at his office, his home and his former legislative office. Were he to run for the Senate, the West Baltimore Democrat would have to file with the state elections board in Annapolis by 9 p.m. Monday.

In January, the 48-year-old Young became the first member of the General Assembly to be expelled from office in 200 years. The Senate voted 36-10 to oust him after the legislature's ethics committee concluded he had violated numerous ethics laws by using his public office for personal gain.

The committee found that Young had collected more than $250,000 in consulting fees and other payments from Coppin State College and health care companies with business interests before the state. The panel said it could find little or no documentation that Young, who chaired a Senate health subcommittee, had performed any work for the money he received.

Within minutes of his expulsion, Young talked defiantly about regaining the seat in the November election and had begun laying the groundwork for a campaign. He even presided over a fund-raiser last month.

But in the past few weeks, Young reassessed his plans, associates said.

Battle for succession

Young's decision to stay out of the race sets up a potentially bruising battle between two former political allies: Jefferies and Del. Clarence M. Mitchell IV, a member of the influential West Baltimore political family.

Mitchell, 36, filed to run for Young's old Senate seat at the state elections office yesterday afternoon. Jefferies, 70, said he planned to run as well and would file Monday.

As he left the elections board yesterday, Mitchell told reporters he had spoken with Young about his decision to run for Senate. "He said, 'Good luck' -- he was very positive, as I am of him," said Mitchell, also a West Baltimore Democrat.

Mitchell declined to say whether he expects Young to run. He said the ousted senator will make a radio announcement about his plans Monday.

Mitchell said he was not worried that a race against Jefferies could divide the 44th District, which includes impoverished neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore as well as parts of downtown. "With all that we've been through, there's not much more that could happen," he said.

The delegate was accompanied to the elections board by his sister, Lisa Mitchell, who is widely expected to jump into the race for one of the district's three seats in the House of Delegates.

She did not file yesterday and would not say whether she plans to. But she did pick up forms while noting that Monday is the final day for filing.

Jefferies said he would ask Young for his support in the Senate race.

"He has not given me his blessing, but he knows I want a full term in the seat," Jefferies said. "I would certainly solicit his help -- and [that of] anybody else who can help get out the vote."

The news that Mitchell had filed did not seem to faze him, even though the Mitchell name is well known in the district.

The Mitchell name

Mitchell's father, Clarence M. Mitchell III, held the state Senate seat from 1967 to 1987, and the delegate's uncle, Michael B. Mitchell, then held it for a year. Delegate Mitchell's great-uncle, Parren J. Mitchell, represented West Baltimore's 7th Congressional District on Capitol Hill for 16 years, after becoming, in 1970, the first African-American to be elected to Congress from Maryland.

Of the Senate seat, Jefferies said, "This seat belongs to the people, and they have to decide who their representative should be. It's not a state central committee thing this time. This time, it goes directly to the people."

Jefferies was nominated by the district's Democratic central committee to serve the remainder of Young's term after being picked by Young.

In 1988, Jefferies succeeded Young in the House of Delegates when Young moved to the Senate to replace Michael Mitchell, who had resigned after being convicted on obstruction of justice and wire fraud charges. Clarence Mitchell III was convicted in November 1987 in the same federal corruption probe.

Jefferies served in the House until 1994, when he lost by 88 votes in the Democratic primary.

tTC A handful of candidates have filed for the district's three House seats, including incumbent Del. Ruth M. Kirk. Others include Verna L. Jones and Charles W. Neal, both community activists, and Jeffrey A. Paige, a Young associate. Anthony McCarthy, a former press secretary for U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, also said he would run for a delegate's seat.

Pub Date: 7/03/98

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