Outnumbered but seeking seats

Non-Democrats try to make inroads in a very blue city

Baltimore

Maryland Votes 2006

November 03, 2006|By Sumathi Reddy | Sumathi Reddy,Sun reporter

Keith Losoya is doing the unthinkable, running for a state Senate seat in the bluest of blue cities.

Baltimore City, after all, has more than eight Democrats for every registered Republican.

Not good odds for a non-Democrat.

So it comes as no surprise that the city's 24 Democratic legislative candidates - mostly incumbents - are expected to win the city's six legislative districts. Most have practically quit campaigning after more competitive primary elections in September.

One senator and three delegates represent each district.

But Losoya, a Republican, plucks on as one of a handful - though a larger number than usual - of opponents challenging the status quo. Among them are a Democrat-turned-Populist Party member, five Green Party candidates and seven Republicans.

Driving his electric car around District 46, Losoya, a 39-year-old executive director of an environmental nonprofit group and business entrepreneur, shoulders a full-time campaign schedule. He has raised money and hired a public relations firm to do communications work for him.

Losoya faces an uphill climb in his challenge to longtime incumbent Sen. George W. Della Jr. But he is hoping that the district's changing demographics can help, noting that a greater share of the residents voted for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. than in any of the city's other districts' in the last election. "You don't win on just Republican votes in this city," Losoya said. "You have to pull a lot of Democratic votes."

And independent voters. In fact, the number of registered independents in the city exceeds the number of registered Republicans. Even with a combined 69,246, the number is dwarfed by the city's 275,610 Democrats.

Matthew A. Crenson, a political scientist at the Johns Hopkins University, said the chances of a non-Democrat winning in the city are quite low. Though there are a few neighborhoods where Republicans may have a chance, he said it is doubtful that a challenger would be able to carry a legislative district.

"I can't think of a single district where a Republican really has a chance," Crenson said. "I can't remember when I last heard of a Republican being elected in Baltimore City," he said, referring to state delegates and senators.

Donald R. Farber, outgoing GOP chairman of the Baltimore City Central Committee, said Ehrlich's victory four years ago and a strong campaign this year has renewed the interest of Republicans in the state, including in the city.

"We have made some progress in the city, and I think that there are more Republicans moving into certain areas, such as Canton," Farber said. "I think in particular we have a good chance generally in District 46," he said of the district in which Losoya is running. Peter Kimos, a Republican, is seeking a House of Delegates seat in the same district.

Meanwhile, it is not just Republicans trying to make inroads.

The Green Party, with 1,668 registered party members in the city, has five candidates on the ballot, four of whom are running in Northeast Baltimore's 43rd District.

Though the party ran eight City Council candidates in 2004, this is the first time it is running candidates for the House of Delegates and state Senate, aside from a write-in candidate in 2002.

"I just think we're growing as a party," said Vincent Tola, chairman of the Baltimore City Green Party. "I think we're getting more experienced, and we want to put our candidates out there."

Still, Tola sounded a realistic chord when asked about his party's chances.

The party is really hoping to get its progressive issues into the public spotlight, Tola said, and lay the groundwork for the 2007 City Council election.

"I don't think that we're likely to have victories this year," he said. "Some of the campaigns really feel that voters want another choice," especially with the BGE situation, and they think this could be a chance. But he added, "I just know how hard it is to win."

"We're going to be more organized in 2007 and in future elections," he said.

For the Democratic candidates, the real battle was the primary.

In the 43rd District, Sen. Joan Carter Conway and her team of three delegates have "thank you" signs up. Conway said they were for the primary, though she faces a Green Party candidate.

"Basically in Baltimore City and Prince George's County, the primary determines what the outcome in the general election will be," she said.

sumathi.reddy@baltsun.com

Baltimore state legislative races

Voters will choose one senator and three delegates from each of the city's six legislative districts.

District 40

Senate

Stephen George, Republican

Catherine E. Pugh, Democrat

House

Frank M. Conaway Jr., Democrat

Jan E. Danforth, Green

Barbara Robinson, Democrat

Shawn Z. Tarrant, Democrat

District 41

Senate

Lisa A. Gladden, Democrat

House

Tony Asa, Republican

Jill P. Carter, Democrat

Nathaniel T. Oaks, Democrat

Samuel I. Rosenberg, Democrat

District 43

Senate

Maria Allwine, Green

Joan Carter Conway, Democrat

House

Curtis S. Anderson, Democrat

Brandy Baker, Green

Ann Marie Doory, Democrat

Armand F. Girard, Republican

David G.S. Greene, Green

Maggie L. McIntosh, Democrat

Richard J. Ochs, Green

District 44

Senate

Sameerah S. Muhammad, Republican

Verna L. Jones, Democrat

House

Keith E. Haynes, Democrat

Ruth M. Kirk, Democrat

Melvin L. Stukes, Democrat

District 45

Senate

Nathaniel J. McFadden, Democrat

Leonard J. Wolff, Republican

House

Talmadge Branch, Democrat

Cheryl Glenn, Democrat

Hattie N. Harrison, Democrat

Ronald M. Owens-Bey, Populist

District 46

Senate

George W. Della Jr., Democrat

Keith Losoya, Republican

House

Peter A. Hammen, Democrat

Peter Kimos, Republican

Carolyn J. Krysiak, Democrat

Brian K. McHale, Democrat [Source: Maryland State Board of Elections]

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