Henson endorses Stokes for mayor

Housing chief's support is surprise to candidate

August 25, 1999|By Gerard Shields and Jamie Stiehm | Gerard Shields and Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III, who had considered running for mayor this year, handed a surprise endorsement yesterday to mayoral candidate Carl Stokes.

The endorsement occurred as financial reports filed in Annapolis showed City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III with less money than his campaign had initially claimed.

Bell filed an amended financial report that showed him with $354,000 going into the final weeks of the race. Last week, the Bell campaign said it had about $400,000. Official campaign reports due last week showed the campaign with $477,810.

Those reports, however, failed to include campaign activity beyond July 1, which Bell campaign officials blamed on a computer glitch. The revised figures show Bell slightly ahead of City Councilman Martin O'Malley, who reported $290,000 remaining.

O'Malley spent the afternoon denouncing racist literature sent by someone purporting to be the Aryan Blood Brotherhood. The letter, which criticized city blacks and Jews, was mailed to dozens of voters, saying it endorsed O'Malley's campaign.

Standing outside the Baltimore post office on East Fayette Street, O'Malley said he had no knowledge of the mailing and called on the authors to stop circulating it.

"I want to very affirmatively denounce this mailing," O'Malley said. "I have no idea who it came from. It didn't come from me."

Regina Savchuk of Hamilton called the O'Malley campaign to alert it about the mail.

"I'm 79 and I've never received such a letter," Savchuk said. "I'm absolutely speechless. This is absolute filth."

Last night, mayoral candidates met at a forum sponsored by the Black and Jewish Forum, where Stokes also denounced the letter and said that racial harmony in the city will depend on establishing economic equality.

O'Malley said city services such as police protection should be equal in all neighborhoods.

"There is more that unites us than divides us," O'Malley said.

With three weeks left before the primary Sept. 14, the Stokes campaign received the unexpected Henson endorsement at the city housing commissioner's monthly news conference.

Henson, a former developer who helped manage the three successful campaigns of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, said Stokes has the most government experience and seasoning to carry the city forward.

"Carl understands how this city works," Henson said. "We'll lose the least amount of time."

Stokes seemed as surprised as anyone over the Henson endorsement.

"I had no forewarning," Stokes said. "I'm pleased with all the endorsements I can get."

The former city councilman and school board member has stated in campaign speeches that, if elected, he would ask all city Cabinet leaders to resign and reapply for their jobs.

Henson, who has been housing commissioner for six years, indicated he is open to the possibility of serving in a Stokes administration, though he stressed no deal was struck. Henson has previously signaled he would like to remain housing commissioner for at least two years to finish projects started under Schmoke.

Stokes said yesterday he has not changed his position on Cabinet appointments.

"I do intend for all the current department heads to resign," he said. "He [Henson] and I have not discussed him being part of a Stokes administration at all."

Sun staff writer Ivan Penn contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 8/25/99

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