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.