Tag Archives: Baltimore City

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Race Rating

greggbernsteinBaltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein

Gregg Bernstein pulled off the impossible in 2010. Bernstein, a wealthy white Jewish lawyer toppled an African-American State’s Attorney in a heavily African-American city–though less so than in the recent past–known for its racially charged politics.

His odds are much better this time around. He faces Marilyn Mosby, wife of rising star City Councilman Nick Mosby, in the primary and independent Russell Neaverdon in the general election. Mosby and Neaverdon are both African American.

The demographics of Baltimore City mean that Bernstein will have to run hard. With $350,000 in his account as of January 1st, he will have the resources to do so. He will also be aided by a team of sharp advisers, including Ann Beegle and SKDKnickerbocker.

Mosby will be competitive with $100,000 in her account,. Still, given his substantial cash advantage and formidable organization, Bernstein is favored in the primary. In heavily Democratic Baltimore it will be exceedingly difficult for Neaverdon to break through.

Primary Rating: Likely Bernstein
General Election Rating: Safe Bernstein

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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.

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Redistricting 2020

MD LD Plan 2012

Maryland’s Current Legislative District Plan

Is it ever too early to discuss the next cycle of redistricting?

The first elections for this decade’s plan are just being held this year since the 2010 elections occurred prior to the decennial redistricting wrangling.

But here at Seventh State, it’s never too early to look ahead, so I’ve taken a peek at the Maryland Department of Planning’s current population estimates for 2020. These estimates can only be taken as a rough basis not just because they’re estimates but because Maryland reallocates prisoners back to their home address for redistricting purposes.

Maryland has been at the forefront of addressing prison-based gerrymandering. The location of a large prison artificially boosts the population of an area even though none of its residents can vote. In Maryland, the allocation of prisoners from prisons in rural areas, such as from the three prisons in Allegany County, just happens to benefit Baltimore City.

Long the center of political power in Maryland, Baltimore City’s representation has declined rapidly in recent decades. The addition of prisoners from the City back into its population for redistricting purposes helps slow its steady loss of seats in the General Assembly.

Having mentioned these very large caveats regarding the reliability of the population estimates, here is what a look at the projected populations suggests for representation in the General Assembly in 2022:

Baltimore City will drop to five legislative districts. The City will gain people over the decade but at a slower pace than the rest of the State. Not enough to staunch the loss of political power. In other words, the new Baltimore City delegation will continue the City’s never ending game of political musical chairs, despite its mighty efforts not to cede representation.

In contrast, Frederick will gain enough population to incorporate the rest of District 4–its second district.

Montgomery will deserve more representation (roughly one-half of one delegate) but will remain close enough to eight districts that the number probably will remain unchanged. The big question is whether Rockville and Gaithersburg will be too large to stay together in one district. The law prohibits unnecessary violations of municipal boundaries, so this could necessitate redrawing the County’s whole map.

Prince George’s will lose roughly 40% of a delegate–almost exactly the share that neighboring Charles will gain.

While Calvert will see little change, St. Mary’s will come very close to no longer having to share a district with another county.

Howard should gain roughly 50% of a delegate–very close to the share than next door Baltimore County will lose.

Western Maryland (Garrett, Allegany and Washington) will retain its two districts with few changes.

Very little change for the nine counties on the Eastern Shore (Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s Talbot, Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, Worcester).

Surprisingly, the numbers also project little change for the Baltimore exurbs of Carroll and Harford.

Remember that State law constrains the drawing of districts that violate too many county and municipal boundaries, except to satisfy the requirements of the federal Voting Rights Act. This limit will prevent any attempt to save Baltimore City’s political weight by drawing pizza pie districts out into the County that remain dominated by the City. The State tried this tactic during the 2000 round but the map was overturned in court.

Of course, these are really just guesstimates at this point. But it’s fun to peek ahead to Maryland’s political future.

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Henry Takes on Conway in D43

D43New

District 43 is the first African-American-majority district (63% black) in this series previewing the upcoming 2014 elections. Like District 46, District 43 survived redistricting with relatively little change despite the need to reconfigure Baltimore City’s districts due to its usual decennial loss of representation. District 43 remains roughly the same area between N. Charles and Harford Rd.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway served on the City Council for two years before being appointed to the Senate in 1997, when incumbent Sen. John Pica chose to retire. In 2010, Conway easily turned back challenger Hector Torres who ran to her left and won 30% of the primary vote.

This year, she faces a challenge from Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry (D 4). Sen. Conway along  with slate mate Del. Maggie McIntosh have supported Henry’s opponents in his previous City Council races, so alliances are already drawn.

Councilman Henry was an early, vocal, and valuable ally for marriage equality who testified repeatedly for the bill. Sen. Conway came to support it later in 2011, but she stuck firmly with the pro side in votes on the issue from that point onward.

Probably more salient for the election in terms of issues is a likely clash over liquor regulation–an issue cited by Henry is his announcement. Conway’s late husband was a city liquor board inspector. Her past opposition to allowing Marylanders to have wine shipped to their homes is indicative of her close ties to the liquor lobby.

Conway received some bad press in the wake of her involvement in a dispute at a property action. The man who owned the property prior to its sale at the public auction accused her of assault and posted this cellphone video:

However, the video did not substantiate his case well, at least to this viewer. Sen. Conway and two other people were walking away from the camera when he followed them. At one point, Conway appears to put her hand on the camera lens but it’s not clear from the video that she did anything to the camera. In another moment, you can see Conway trying to dissuade her companion from escalating the argument. You watch and draw your own conclusions.

Regardless of a bout of negative media attention and though he would otherwise be a promising challenger and senator, Henry’s lack of campaign funds severely hinders his campaign. He has only $8K in his campaign account compared to Conway’s $106K–a nice amount in a district where “walking around” money is said to remain a valuable resource. And Conway will have the strong support of all three incumbent delegates who will form a united slate for reelection.

The elections for delegate are quiet. Incumbents Del. Curt Anderson, Maggie McIntosh, and Mary Washington are all seeking reelection. Their one filed opponent, Timothy Vance, has not filed a campaign report. He describes himself on Facebook as a “regular citizen of Baltimore” and will remain so after the election.

Del. McIntosh is the senior pol in this district. She was first elected to the House in 1992 and served as U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s campaign manager and state director in the previous four years. A former House Majority Leader, she has chaired the Environmental Matters Committee since 2003 and is close to Speaker Michael Busch. McIntosh is seen as one of the most likely–possibly the most likely–to succeed him but many less senior delegates are also restless after ten years of a largely unchanged leadership.

Del. Anderson served in the House from 1983-95. In 1994, he ran for the Maryland Senate but lost with 44% to incumbent Pica.  Anderson rejoined the House in 2003. Del. Washington first ran for the House in 2006. Though she lost, she came in a respectable fourth in the primary and easily won the nomination for the open seat in 2010 on a slate with the other incumbents.

While McIntosh has $77K in her campaign account, her colleagues have little–just $5K for Anderson and less than $1K for Washington. But Vance did not even file a report and has no record of even having a campaign account.

No Republicans have filed for any of the legislative seats.

UPDATE: I mistook Mary Washington’s account for that of another candidate. Del. Washington has $50K cash on hand, which renders her a well-funded candidate.

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