Familiar look to primary

The Political Game

Election: This year's campaign duplicates some of the features of 1971's race for mayor, which the City Council president won.

September 07, 1999|By Gerard Shields and Ivan Penn | Gerard Shields and Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

The approaching Sept. 14 primary seems like deja vu all over again to W. Russell Brown Jr.

The Maryland War Memorial commissioner couldn't help noticing that the tough mayoral primary battle being fought by three veteran city politicians is much like the election held in 1971 -- the last time the city had a race without an incumbent mayor running.

William Donald Schaefer, then City Council president, faced four opponents, including two political veterans in Clarence Mitchell III and George Russell Jr. The three contenders also mirrored the racial makeup of the current field, the white Schaefer facing African-Americans Mitchell and Russell.

Schaefer prevailed, capturing 95,000 votes or 56 percent. Russell finished as runner-up with 58,223 votes or 34 percent. Mitchell finished fourth behind Francis J. Valle.

"I never thought I'd live to see a race like that again," Brown said. "And I've been in politics for 50 years."

Brown supported Schaefer then, and this time around is backing City Councilman Martin O'Malley.

The Sept. 14 primary also has one other thing in common with the 1971 race: William Edward Roberts. The legendary East Baltimore community activist first ran for mayor at 44 and finished fifth in the field.

Roberts, now 72, is one of 16 Democratic candidates running on the Sept. 14 ballot. He's focusing on the need to crack down on drug dealing in the city. Roberts lost a son to drugs and a daughter remains in federal prison. His motto: "Jobs Not Jails."

"It was stormy just like this one," Roberts said of the 1971 campaign. "Even James Brown came to town and wanted one of the two [African-American] candidates to get out [of the race]."

Racist flier contains at least one inconsistency

The authors of the "Aryan Blood Brotherhood" racist literature that attacks city blacks and Jews did much to cover their tracks so they couldn't be traced.

But the group -- whose existence has not been proven -- left one piece of evidence that indicates it may not be a true hate group.

The stamps used to send the material contained a picture of a flower: a Chinese hibiscus.

Council president candidate puts rap lyrics to work

In addition to trying to formulate city policy, City Council president candidate David G. S. Greene is now writing rap lyrics.

The City Wide Coalition candidate penned a few verses of what he is calling "The Political Wrap":

It's the man on top

He holds the hammers and tongs

It's the man on top

He sets the rights, he sets the wrongs

It's the man on top

He's one important dude

As long as he's on top

All the rest of us get screwed

Who funds the races

For mayors and Council Pres?

Who writes the words

For what City Hall sez?

It's the man on top,

He rings the Bell and Stokes the fire

It's the man on top

The politician buyer

No need to worry about Greene, 64, quitting his day job. He has. Greene is a retired Towson University physics professor.

Insider's impression: a difficult choice

Wendy Royalty knows the difficult choice facing Baltimore voters next week.

As a former assistant to city Health Commissioner Peter L. Beilenson, Royalty worked with all three of the leading mayoral candidates.

Royalty describes City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III as sensitive, kind-hearted, sincere and unconstrained. City Councilman Martin O'Malley is defiant, driven, ambitious and confident, Royalty said. And former City Councilman Carl Stokes is logical, deliberate, mature and stable.

Royalty, who works in Washington, says that no one man possesses the complete package.

Said Royalty: "If my friends and colleagues in Baltimore choose Carl Stokes, they choose the statesman; if they choose Lawrence Bell, they choose the good guy; and if they choose Martin O'Malley, they choose the rebel."

Campaigns put families to work in final weeks

As the campaign reaches its final week, mayoral candidates are turning to endorsements from the people who have known them the longest: their families.

Last week, Stokes unveiled two radio ads featuring his grandmother, Arlene Stokes. The East Baltimore resident, now in her 80s, laments crime in the city and appeals to racial solidarity in support of Stokes, recalling when blacks could not become mayor.

The radio ads came in the same week of a mailing supporting Bell from his parents. Dr. Lawrence and Elinor Bell listed nine reasons to vote for their son, including his government and politics degree from the University of Maryland, his perfect attendance at council and Board of Estimates meetings and his support of public safety, recreation, tax cuts and minority businesses.

Pub Date: 9/07/99

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