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Amid Low Voter Turnout, Rawlings-Blake, Most Council Incumbents, Win Primary Races Handily
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September 14, 2011
Rawlings Blake celebrated at a downtown night club packed with her supporters and on a stage packed with many of the same Democratic Party stalwarts who joined her last spring at her formal announcement.
There was Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Senator Ben Cardin, Howard County Executive Ken Ullman, a number of City Council members and Governor Martin O’Malley, who said there is no more important work than restoring cities.
“For the last 18 months in the toughest of times Stephanie Rawlings Blake has governed our city well and moved us forward.”
As well as Congressman Elijah Cummings, one of Rawlings Blake’s mentors and a colleague of her father, the late Delegate Howard “Pete” Rawlings.
“We are proud of the woman you are, the wife, the mother and we are very much proud of the leader that you have become.”
Rawlings Blake, who often has been criticized for a lack of emotion, had a slight catch in her voice as she thanked her family for their support and talked about her father.
“I really wish my father could be here. I know that he is here with us in spirit. He taught me and showed us all that real progress demands tough choices, unity and straight talk. I am so grateful.”
Rawlings-Blake, the city council president who became mayor 18 months ago when former mayor Sheila Dixon resigned as part of a plea agreement on political corruption charges, faced an unusually large field of determined challengers. But she raised more money and garnered the endorsements of most of the state’s Democratic establishment to win going away.
Last night she acknowledged that her opponents threw their hearts into their campaigns and wished them well.
“And to their supporters, I want to thank them for getting involved. Please stay involved and join us as we continue to make Baltimore a great place to live and to work.”
Otis Rolley, who came in a distant third after being sharply critical of Rawlings Blake during the campaign, said he is committed to Baltimore.
“I’m going to just keep being engaged and try to figure out how to push some of the agenda that we talked about throughout this campaign, figuring out how we start to rebuild our neighborhoods whether you’re within city hall, outside city hall we all have a role to play.”
Through reporters at his election party at a Mount Vernon restaurant, he offered Rawlings Blake Congratulations.
“Obviously, you ran a successful race. I wish you success and I wish the city success and I will be supportive or your leadership.”
And Catherine Pugh, who finished second with fewer than half the votes of Rawlings Blake, told her supporters that she would continue to be a force in city politics.
“ I’m excited. I’m excited because you got excited. And I’m excited because you joined me on this journey. And I'm excited about what you will do for the future of this city. So don’t give up, and don’t give in. Recognize that you matter because I believe that you do matter.”
She told reporters later that she couldn’t compete with Rawlings-Blake’s commercials.
“And I just don’t think we had enough time to really get our message out there. What was most important were the people that I talked to, the lives that I touched, the friends that I made. So I'm still excited. I'm excited about the message that I carried. Because I believe that the people in this city believe what I was talking about.”
But Jody Landers, a former City Council member and chairman of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors who finished fourth, was less than conciliatory. He said Rawlings-Blake offers “more of the same” instead of leadership.
“Where are we going as a city? How are we going to overcome a lot of these tremendous problems that we have and reverse our fortunes so that we’re not losing population, we’re not seeing a decline in housing, we’re not seeing a decline in schools, we’re seeing safer neighborhoods and all that. It remains to be seen.”
In the Republican mayoral primary Alfred Griffin squeezed out a narrow victory over Vicki Harding.
In City Council races, incumbent Council President Jack Young took 75 percent of the vote in a five-way Democratic primary while David Wiggins easily won the Republican primary.
The Republicans in each district ran unopposed, but the many of the Democrats faced crowded fields.
Incumbent Jim Kraft easily held onto his first district seat while newcomer Scott Brandon took more than half the votes in a six way scramble for the open second district seat.
In the third district incumbent Robert Curran held off two challengers and incumbents Bill Henry and Rochelle Rikki Spector, won easily in the fourth and fifth districts.
Belinda Conaway, daughter of losing mayoral candidate Frank Conaway, appeared to be losing her spot in the seventh district to Nick Mosby while incumbents Helen Holton and William “Pete” Welch held onto their chairs representing the eighth and ninth districts.
Incumbents Ed Reisinger and Carl Stokes held off challengers in the 10th and 12th districts as did Warren Branch in the 13th. Incumbents William Cole and Mary Pat Clark ran unopposed in the 11th and 14th districts.
With the help of Raven Hill, Stephanie Hughes and Matt Purdy, I’m Joel McCord, reporting in downtown Baltimore for 88.1, WYPR.
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