Gladden, a lawyer in the city public defender's office, said she sees herself as a grass-roots legislator who focuses more on meeting the needs of her district than Hoffman has. Gladden talks of her success in obtaining funding for a community recreation center and playground, as well as her sponsorship of bill barring racial profiling by police.
She criticizes Hoffman for failing to ensure that such historically black institutions as Coppin State College and neighborhoods with redevelopment issues receive necessary state aid.
Gladden has the support of the city's and state's top African-American politicians, including Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Del. Howard P. Rawlings, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Blount and Schmoke.
Numerous political operatives have worked behind the scenes to help her campaign, including Larry S. Gibson, Arthur Murphy and Julius Henson, a consultant known to use aggressive political tactics, who was paid $4,500 by Gladden's campaign.
Boston, 63, trails the other two candidates in fund-raising and political support. But he promises, "We're going to surprise people."
Boston, a retired city schoolteacher, served 12 years in the House of Delegates before waging an unsuccessful campaign in 1998 to unseat Blount. He balks at suggestions that he is an underdog or a spoiler in the race, noting his previous tenure in the legislature when he served as chairman of the city's House delegation.
"I'm a legitimate candidate," Boston said.
Along with the Senate candidates, a dozen candidates are running for the district's three seats in the House of Delegates. They include Hoffman's ticket of Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg; Marshall Pittman, a former member of Blount's political organization, and Mark E. Hughes, a community activist.
Gladden's ticket includes Dels. Nathaniel T. Oaks and Wendell F. Phillips as well as community activist David Maurice Smallwood. Boston has two delegate candidates on his ticket, Rosenberg and political newcomer Nathaniel Bland.
Also running are Jill P. Carter, daughter of civil rights leader Walter Carter, and Deborah B. Ramsey, Ed Potillo, Alan Abramowitz and Tara Andrews.