Almost exactly one year after Baltimore broke out in rioting, voters had to decide who the city’s Democratic nominee for mayor will be. Considering the overwhelming advantage Democrats possess in Baltimore, this decision is tantamount to electing a mayor.
The big question was whether Democrats would turn their back on the ugly past (which, whether they realize it or not, has been brought to them by Democrats). Things got off to a good start when pathetic Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the current mayor who responded so badly to the Freddy Gray crisis, announced months ago that she wouldn’t seek reelection. Things got even better when City Council member Nick Mosby, husband of the disgraceful prosecutor in the Freddy Gray case, withdrew from the race a few weeks before the primary.
This left two main contenders — former mayor Shelia Dixon and State Senator Catherine Pugh.
Dixon was Baltimore’s mayor before Rawlings-Blake. She resigned after being convicted in connection with misappropriating gift cards intended for needy families. The fact that she was a serious candidate for the office she disgraced is telling.
Pugh represents the portion of Baltimore where intense rioting occurred last year. The vacuity of her campaign was exemplified this statement: “My message is about inclusion, my message is about lifting the least of us while we lift all of us.”
The risk that she might be just another corrupt Baltimore politician is apparent from the fact that several big checks to her campaign were made out with incorrect names or by nonexistent business entities.
Pugh did, however, distinguish herself during the rioting. She appeared on street corners with a bullhorn and urged the rioters to disperse. Compared to Dixon, Pugh was the fresh candidate.
Fresher still, in a sense, was DeRay Mckesson, a 30 year-old out of Minneapolis who returned to his native Baltimore to run for mayor. McKesson is a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement. He made his name by agitating in Charleston, South Carolina, Ferguson, Missouri, and, of course Baltimore. He offered Baltimore a radical choice, but also an echo of Rawlings-Blake, Marilyn Mosby, and Baltimore’s days of rage.
In the end, Baltimore’s Democrats made the obvious selection. They nominated Pugh. She defeated Dixon, but only by a margin of three points, 37 to 34.
McKesson fell completely flat, finishing in sixth place with only 2 percent of the vote. Baltimore Democrats should be congratulated for that.