Tallying winners and losers from the city election

September 16, 1999|By C. Fraser Smith

EVERY political campaign brings joy or heartache to marginal players -- people who are committed in varying degrees to a candidate's ideas, hopes and dreams.

Some give up summers or even years of summers in search of some public good. Others want a taste of inside political power, "access" to decision-makers, a job -- or an edge in some future campaign.

On election night, the real workers, those who have labored for years, sense the outcome at least hours ahead of time. Even the casual visitor can feel the quickening pulse of victory or the languid one of defeat.

At Port Discovery on Tuesday night, the Martin O'Malley crowd sensed its candidate's surging majority and filled the five-story space with throaty cheers. At the Forum in West Baltimore, returns from Edmondson Village told the story for Carl Stokes: He won those precincts and the crowd cheered, but the insiders sagged: The margin was only a handful in a place where Mr. Stokes should have won by hundreds.

Mr. Stokes' foot soldiers had a moment to cheer those results but most of them could see what was coming. Their candidate -- and 15 others in the Democratic primary were losing -- but they were finding hope in the numbers.

"If he's doing that well in Edmondson Village," said Matthew Weinstein, a Stokes worker, "he deserves to win." The Stokes campaign posted a "Three Cheers for Martin" banner on its Internet site yesterday -- a final tribute to the winner.

Stokes workers looked for solace also in the willingness of black voters to back Mr. O'Malley, who is white. Their candidate was losing -- but the city was winning, they said.

Beyond the classy Stokes forces, other lists of winners and losers are inevitable. Here's one of them:

Winner: Linda Eberhardt, public school teacher and political savant, whose knowledge of city voting patterns was at the service of the Stokes campaign all summer. She hasn't always been on the winning side in city elections, but she has always been indispensable. She represents all the nameless workers who toil expertly and anonymously.

Loser: The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. Though this group is valued, the preachers found themselves being preached to this year by their congregations. The alliance endorsed Mr. Stokes, but the voters went heavily for Mr. O'Malley.

Winner: The Rev. Frank M. Reid III, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, continued in his maverick ways by endorsing Mr. O'Malley. At the same time, Sheila Dixon, a member of Bethel, was elected City Council president. Other Bethel members are: newcomer Cathy Pugh, who was elected to fill Ms. Dixon's seat in the 4th District, and Joan Pratt, who was returned as city comptroller.

Loser: Larry S. Gibson. For 12 years, Mr. Gibson has had the political fortunes of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to keep him occupied. When Mr. Schmoke chose not to run again, though, Mr. Gibson found himself without a candidate. Mr. Gibson had a political dalliance with Republican Carl Adair who lost in the GOP primary.

Winner: State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer. The former four-term mayor and two-term governor endorsed Mr. O'Malley after pushing NAACP President Kweisi Mfume to run. Look for Mr. Schaefer to have some kitchen cabinet postion if Mr. O'Malley wins as is almost certain in the general election.

Loser: Julius Henson. His candidate for mayor, City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III, squandered leads in the polls and fund-raising to finish third in the race for mayor. Mr. Henson's orchestration of a disruptive City Hall protest -- in which the O'Malley forces were briefly prevented from holding a press conference -- contributed to Mr. Bell's plummeting trajectory. Mr. Henson's candidate for council president, Frank Conway, also lost.

Winner: Julius Henson. Yes, the same Mr. Henson. He apparently comes from the Earl Weaver school of political management: The old Orioles' skipper used to say, a strong team needs depth -- "deep depth." Mr. Henson has it. His candidate for comptroller, Ms. Pratt, received about 80,000 votes, some 20,000 more than Mr. O'Malley. Mr. Henson's candidate for City Council in the 3rd District, Lisa Stancil, also won.

Loser: John Paterakis. The baker and development mogul, who wants a hotel on every corner, from the Christopher Columbus statue in Little Italy to the Dundalk Marine Terminal, backed the losing Bell campaign with major campaign contributions.

Winner: John Paterakis. Yes, the same baker and mogul. An agent of Mr. Paterakis, it is believed, provided some key donations to Mr. O'Malley and, perhaps, Mr. Stokes, too. This is called backing as many candidates as you have hotels in development.

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