Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Bishop L. Robinson said yesterday he will not run for mayor in this year's city elections, ending weeks of speculation about his possible candidacy.
Robinson did not discuss his decision other than to say: "It's just a personal matter. I've given it a lot of thought, and I think it's best that I not run."
His decision deals another blow to efforts by state officials and Baltimore business leaders to draft a candidate for mayor because they consider the current field to be weak.
The draft efforts -- led by a group that included Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat, and Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer -- also failed to get Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, into the race.
With Mfume, a former City Council member and congressman, and Robinson out of the running, some of the nine candidates who have filed are trying to broker political deals to force competitors from the race.
City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, who is supported by unions representing municipal workers and other labor organizations, has been urging longtime friend and ally Councilman Martin O'Malley to join his team. If elected, Bell will offer O'Malley the city solicitor's post, said officials in Bell's campaign.
But Tuesday, O'Malley announced he is running for mayor.
Bell campaign officials also said they have asked mayoral hopeful Carl Stokes to run on Bell's ticket as council president.
But Stokes said yesterday that he has no intention of withdrawing from the mayor's race. "There's no chance," he said. "No way. No how. I'm running for mayor."
Stokes' campaign has been building support over the past several days and appears likely to grow stronger with Robinson's decision.
This week, several state delegates endorsed Stokes, a former councilman and school board member, as the candidate to replace Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who announced in December that he would not seek a fourth term in office.
State Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, chairman of the city's Senate delegation, said early this week his influential Eastside Democratic Organization has considered backing Stokes.
McFadden said the organization is waiting until after the July 6 filing deadline to make its final decision, but "Carl Stokes looks good from the Eastside perspective."
Robinson, who retired from public service two years ago as the state's prison chief, said he plans to remain a consultant with Lockheed Martin Corp.
"I suspect everyone feels as though I'm doing what is the best thing to do," Robinson said. "I'm sure the city will move forward with whomever is elected."