Del. Maggie L. McIntosh is fighting for her political life, and she hopes to save it by knocking on 20,000 doors before the Sept. 10 primary.
McIntosh's re-election would have been a virtual slam dunk before the state Court of Appeals redrew the political map. She is majority leader of the House of Delegates and has represented Northwest Baltimore for 10 years.
But after June 21, she found herself in the 43rd District, which takes in a swath of Northeast Baltimore between Charles Street and Harford Road and runs down York Road to North and Greenmount avenues. The district's three delegate seats are already held.
"Maggie's running against us. It has to be understood we are the incumbents in the 43rd District," said Del. Michael V. Dobson. "I enjoy working with Maggie. Maggie, of course, brings a lot to the table, but so does each one of us."
The change was a tough break for McIntosh, who must run an aggressive campaign to get her name and accomplishments before a new group of constituents. "Nobody's guaranteed a free ride," she said. "Campaigning door to door gives me energy, gives me hope, makes me want to work harder."
She has lined up big-name endorsements, including from U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat whose campaign she once ran; Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr.; Rep. Elijah E. Cummings; City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr.; and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. And she has raised nearly $121,000.
"I'm not running against anybody," she said. "I'm running for the House of Delegates. I have to be very clear about that."
Those polite words hide the simple fact that at least one of the delegates will not be heading back to Annapolis in January. The only person resting easy in the 43rd District race is Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who is running unopposed. It is the other members of her Unity Team who are being challenged.
In addition to facing a member of State House leadership, Dobson and fellow Dels. Ann Marie Doory and Kenneth C. Montague Jr., are also being challenged in the Democratic primary by Beatrice M. Brown and former Del. Curtis S. Anderson.
Doory, who has raised more than $82,000 for her campaign, said the late date of the state court's decision put McIntosh in a difficult spot. The 43rd District team had worked well together, she said, noting its efforts on redeveloping the Memorial Stadium site and the Belvedere Square shopping center.
"Our team had already been organized a year ago, and we had run in '98 as well," she said. "Maggie brings only six precincts from her base, so it's an uphill battle in her regard."
McIntosh has been in this type of race before. In 1994, the year of the last post-redistricting race, she was bumped from her home in the old 44th District into the newly redrawn 42nd District. Then, four incumbents were thrown together in a race for three Northwest Baltimore seats. McIntosh survived that contest. Now, she hopes for a repeat. "It's a great district for me. It's where I got my start in politics," she said. "For me, this is coming home."
Anderson, who once served 12 years in the House of Delegates, also knows well what redistricting can do to political careers. In 1994, he relinquished his delegate seat to run against state Sen. John A. Pica Jr. He lost.
"Ten or 12 years ago we had problems with crime and public safety, and it seems the solutions we've come up with haven't worked," he said. "I think I have some ideas to try to help this thing."
Anderson, who has raised $9,700 for the campaign, wants to reduce school class sizes and pour more money into the city's public school system.
"I'm not trying to knock off anybody. I'm trying to get elected to put in place what I feel is necessary to help my district," he said. "I'm not interested in becoming part of leadership."
In a time when Baltimore's population and influence are decreasing, leadership positions can be vital in furthering the city's interests.
McIntosh noted that House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. has asked her to lead a team of health experts to look into ways to bring universal health insurance to Maryland. She, too, wants greater funding for the city's public schools and more opportunities and activities made available for youngsters.
"It's time for someone to say, and I'm going to say it, that closing libraries and closing rec centers hasn't been the way," said McIntosh, a former teacher and school administrator.
Though none of the candidates is targeting each other, McIntosh and Doory could present voters with a difficult choice. An unspoken issue is that two white women, with admirable records and long years of service, are competing against each other in a majority black district.
But Doory, who has represented the 43rd District for 16 years, said: "I have not heard any voter say to me, `Well, we can only have one [white woman].' I think the voters are going to pick from who they know and who they've seen on the campaign trail."