Category Archives: District 44

Jones-Rodwell Hangs It Up

JonesRodwell

One of the hottest Senate primaries is no more. The Daily Record reports that Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell has decided to retire from the Maryland Senate (h/t Neal Carter).

As I blogged previously, redistricting had dealt Jones-Rodwell a poor hand by placing her in a district far more favorable to her primary opponent, Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam:

Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D 10), who lives in the portion of the old District 10 that is now part of the new District 44, is challenging incumbent Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D 44). The new district contains roughly twice as many people from Nathan-Pulliam’s old district, though it bears Jones-Rodwell’s district number.

Both Jones-Rodwell and Nathan-Pulliam struck me as assets to Baltimore in the General Assembly and I was unhappy to see them redistricted into the same seat. Sen. Jones-Rodwell’s voice will be missed from that body but hopefully not from Baltimore. Fortunately, Del. Nathan-Pulliam service in the House gives her a strong leg up navigating the Senate.

Three Delegates, One Seat

D44NewDistricts 44A and 44B

A previous post examined the Senate race in drastically reconfigured District 44–the only one in which the challenger is favored over the incumbent–so I thought I’d look at the competitive delegate race in District 44A.

District 44 drew the short end of the stick in Baltimore City’s redistricting game of musical chairs with most of the district moved out of the City into the County. As a result, three incumbents are now competing for the sole delegate seat in District 44A, the portion left in the City.

District 44A has three incumbents vying for one seat: Dels. Keith Haynes, Kieffer Mitchell, and Melvin Stukes.

Del. Keiffer Mitchell, heir to the Mitchell political dynasty, is a nice guy who came very close to first-place finisher Haynes in his first delegate campaign in 2010. Del. Keith Haynes is running for his fourth term, where he sits on the Appropriations Committee, but has not been a stand out.

Del. Melvin Stukes came in third but well behind Mitchell and Haynes. The City Paper criticized Stukes for his fecklessness as long ago as 1999 when he served on the City Council:

In two terms on the council Stukes has made his mark as an anti- environmentalist, an unflinching rubber stamp for the mayor’s pet projects, and an incurable windbag, but he’s utterly failed to distinguish himself as a representative of the people.

Stukes also attracted deserved negative attention during the fierce debate over marriage equality. After sponsoring the bill for several years, he claimed he thought it allowed civil unions rather than marriage even though the word “marriage” appears in the title. Much was also made of the heat Stukes took from his barber:

In West Baltimore, Lenny Clay, the politically powerful owner of the West Baltimore barbershop Lenny’s House of Naturals, gave Del. Melvin Stukes an earful for sponsoring the same-sex marriage bill in the House.

He recalled telling Stukes: “You should burn your Bible, because you are no longer following your book.”

Instead Stukes took his name off the bill and will not support it.

When the going gets tough, Stukes goes away.

I’m sure Mitchell faced similar criticism from some friends but he seemed very much at peace with his decision and happy to take a leadership role in pushing for the bill in the House. In Stukes’ case, we can either believe he is that stupid or unreliable. Based on his public comments, he wants us to go with stupid.

Regardless, it seems likely that Stukes will be out of the House after the primary. He fared poorly four years ago compared to Haynes and Mitchell. Moreover, he had just $10K cash in his campaign kitty compared to $32K for Haynes and $24K for Mitchell. None can raise more money until the session ends.

It should be a tough race between Haynes and Mitchell. Haynes has four terms under his belt so he has name recognition in the district as well as the cash advantage. Mitchell already showed he is a fierce campaigner in his first outing four years ago.

Charm City Senate Primaries–Challenger Favored in D44

D44New2014 Baltimore City and County District 44

Links to Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV of this series on top Senate primaries.

District 43 (D): Incumbent Sen. Joan Carter Conway faces Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry, whose city council district overlaps with this legislative district. Although the likeable, smart Henry is a strong challenger, key factors render Conway the favorite, as I detailed previously in my overview of this district. Despite some bad press, Conway has far more money and has formed a tight slate with strong delegate incumbents. Rating: Likely Conway.

District 44 (D): As usual, Baltimore City state legislative redistricting was a game of political musical chairs. The City had to lose representation and two-thirds of District 44 has shifted out of the City into the County (see map above). County District 44B will elect two delegates to one from City District 44A.

Virtually all of the new territory was formerly part of District 10 (see map below). In truth, the new District 44 is more the heir to District 10 than to District 44. The new District 10 has taken in much new territory further north in Baltimore County. No wonder Sen. Delores Kelley (D 10) joined Sen. Jim Brochin in filing an unsuccessful lawsuit against the new plan.

Redistricting has set up one of this year’s toughest Senate primaries. Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D 10), who lives in the portion of the old District 10 that is now part of the new District 44, is challenging incumbent Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D 44). The new district contains roughly twice as many people from Nathan-Pulliam’s old district, though it bears Jones-Rodwell’s district number.

D10and44old2010 Baltimore City District 44 and Baltimore County District 10

Besides more past constituents, Nathan-Pulliam has more money in her campaign account–$80K to $63K for Jones-Rodwell. Neither can raise money during the session, so these are the amounts with which they will enter the final two months of the campaign.

Nathan-Pulliam has served in the House since 1995 and has been Deputy Majority Whip since 2003. Sen. Jones-Rodwell served one term in the House before winning election to the Senate in 2002 where she chairs a subcommittee of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee.

Endorsements and slating can help either candidate. Nathan-Pulliam shows little sign of losing her base. Sen. Delores Kelly (D 10) has endorsed Nathan-Pulliam, her former delegate. Nathan-Pulliam also won the support of the 10th Democratic Club, much of which presumably now lives in District 44.

So far, I have not heard of any slates being formed (post on Facebook if you know otherwise). Nathan-Pulliam is older than Jones-Rodwell, who may find it easier to do the aggressive door knocking that she will need to do to introduce herself in Baltimore County.

Jones-Rodwell has fewer former constituents and less money than her opponent. Races like these often turn out to be friends-and-neighbors contests, especially when they straddle jurisdictional boundaries like District 44, so the incumbent is in real trouble. This is the first district I’m rating as favoring the challenger. Rating: Lean Nathan-Pulliam.