Schmoke won't endorse mayoral candidates

expects field to grow

Incumbent to stay out of campaign

says city needs `a fresh start'

June 11, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said yesterday that he will not endorse any candidate running for mayor this year because he does not want to influence the election.

Schmoke said he believes the field of nine will expand by at least three candidates, including a businessman who has never run for public office, a state legislator and state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer.

The mayor would not name the businessman or the legislator, nor would he say how he knew they would run.

"I don't intend to be involved in the campaign," Schmoke said at his weekly news conference. "I don't intend to endorse anyone."

He said his former campaign volunteers have asked him who they should support. "I told them, `You really ought to search your own conscience,' " Schmoke said. "I just think we need a fresh start and new energy here."

Schmoke said those who have worked in his political organization have joined different mayoral campaigns.

Although the mayor would not name the legislator he believes will join the race, state Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who represents Northeast Baltimore, is expected to decide whether she will run when she returns from vacation next week.

Although she has demonstrated her ability to win campaigns, with election to the City Council in 1995 and an uncontested run for Senate last year, several political officials said she would best serve the public as a legislator in Annapolis.

"She's a very good senator and has a lot of potential," said state Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore lawmaker who has been working to influence the mayoral race by drafting a prominent candidate.

State legislators have a free shot at running for mayor because they don't have to give up their seat in the legislature to join the race. State elections are held in even-numbered years and city elections are held in odd-numbered years.

So Conway or any other state legislator from Baltimore could join the race without fear of being put out of office.

Schaefer, who has said that he does not intend to run for mayor, could not be reached to comment yesterday.

Schmoke said he does not believe a large number of candidates will be a problem, even though the pace of the campaign appears sluggish.

"This is all still early for this kind of election," Schmoke said. "It's going to be a sprint, not a marathon."

Pub Date: 6/11/99

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