After months of the most contested Mayoral race Baltimore has witnessed incumbent Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake sails to victory over a crowd of competitors.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake managed a budget crisis, a blizzard on her first day in office and contended with the unprecedented earthquake in her first term in office. These facts became the theme of her campaign and were used as proof of her leadership.
This year’s race was comprised of Wilton Wilson a nurse from Baltimore, Jody Landers a former city council member, Otis Rolley a recent city planner for Baltimore City, Frank Conaway and State Senator Catherine Pugh. Choosing not to participate in several of the public debates Rawlings Blake drew lots of criticism but later proved to be good political strategy against her opponents running for her seat as mayor. Early polls had Mayor Rawlings Blake up by 54% and her closet competitor State Senator Catherine Pugh at 24% of the vote with only 12% of the precincts reporting.
WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Kerry Cavanaugh reported that Rolley conceded shortly after 10 p.m. He said, “The hustle and the grit that we all are known for, we have to reignite that so we take our city back, rebuild our schools, rebuild our neighborhoods, and start to have a real city again.”
Despite the loss, Rolley said he does not plan to leave politics: “54,000 people voting are pretty sad. I think that is saying that many people are giving up. I am not giving up. I want to encourage more people to wake up and to step up and to demand more of their City Council members, of their mayor, of their communities, of themselves.”
Pugh conceded shortly after 10:30 p.m., and she will return to her duties in the state Senate.
Pugh’s campaign bought ample TV and radio spots in the state senator’s bid for mayor. A campaign spokesperson explained the Pugh’s decision to run, saying “We have a very strong mayoral form of government, where the mayor really does control the purse strings and makes a lot of decisions about what happens and the quality of life for the people in this city. She has been a great senator, passing 77 pieces of legislation in just four years, but she knew that if she really (wanted to) impact the people of Baltimore she had to take the helm of city government. That’s why she jumped in.”
Rawlings-Blake will face the winner of the Republican primary in the Nov. 8 general election, which is seen as a formality in a city where Republicans make up about 10 percent of the registered voters. The city has not had a Republican mayor since Theodore R. McKeldin left office in 1967.
Rawlings-Blake, the daughter of a popular state delegate, worked as a public defender and was the youngest person elected to the City Council at age 25 in 1995. She became City Council president in 2007. Challengers to Rawlings-Blake had vowed to upset her if they could draw enough supporters to the voting booths.
Although Mayor Rawlings Blake won the race, voter turnout remains a problem. According to Jayne Miller of 11 TV Hill 78% of voters stayed away from the polls in Baltimore. Miller goes on to report Mayor Rawlings Blake spent 1.5 million dollars on the election earning only one out of ten votes of all ballots cast.
Political pundant Donnie Glover stated on Miller’s program “Baltimorean’s have lost faith in the political process and the politicians.” Glover asserted that most voters were too busy dealing with the everyday woes of life rather than casting their vote for Mayor. It was not clear if Glover was saying that the low turnout was a mandate on the mayor. Glover said, “It seems to be a double standard or a two-city approach where candidates only focused on favored areas of the city.
It is clear that some have their opinion on how the Mayor ran her campaign. Despite the doubters and naysayers of her strategy, Rawlings Blake ran an effective and successful campaign. It is my belief that this will not be the last of the million dollar mayoral races in Baltimore. There is talk of former Mayor Shelia Dixon having her eyes set for the 2015 race. As for now, Baltimore has a new Mayor in her own right.
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