SHOCKER: Rawlings-Blake Not Running For Reelection 

The Baltimore Sun dropped the bombshell news minutes ago. The mayor is holding a press conference at 10:00 am.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, beleaguered by the death of Freddie Gray and the protests and rioting that followed, will announce at 10 a.m. Friday that she won’t seek re-election, her spokesman confirmed.

Rawlings-Blake, 45, wants to focus on preparing the city for the upcoming trials facing the six offices involved in Gray’s arrest and death, sources close to the mayor say. She briefed her Cabinet and staff this morning, and has no plans to seek another office.
The mayor abandons her re-election campaign amid a growing field of Democratic challengers in the April primary, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, state Sen. Catherine Pugh and City Councilman Carl Stokes.

Expect more candidates and a free for all primary election. Wow.

Dixon Vs. SRB: Oh Yeah, It’s On

Not that there was really much doubt, but former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon made it official today. She’s running to get her old job back.

Sheila Dixon, Baltimore’s first black female mayor who resigned in disgrace after a conviction six years ago, announced Wednesday she is running to reclaim her old job.

Dixon posted her decision on her Facebook page. She did not immediately return a request for comment.

“After discussions with my family and encouragement from friends and people across the city, I have made a decision to run for Mayor of Baltimore,” she wrote. “I believe I have the leadership skills and experience to bring citizens across the city together to create a safer city that is also cleaner, greener, and healthier than we are today.

“Together we can reclaim, revive and rebuild Baltimore.”

SRB To Head USCM

Voters may be disenchanted, the police are angry, and her fundraiser kicked her to the curb, but Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be sworn in this weekend as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Max Hilaire, chairman of Morgan State University’s political science department, said he sees nothing but upside to the mayor’s new position.

“I think it’s good for Baltimore and it’s also good for the mayor,” Hilaire said. “It certainly gives her some national recognition in a positive light instead of being recognized nationally for the horrors of the Freddie Gray case. She’ll be meeting with hundreds of mayors, some of them with similar problems. I don’t see it as taking away from what needs to be done in Baltimore.”

SRB And Martin-Lauer Part Ways

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and fundraising powerhouse Colleeen Martin-Lauer have parted ways, the Baltimore Sun reports. This can’t be good news less than 11 months before what is expected to be a competitive primary.

As Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake prepares for what could be a challenging election campaign, she is losing her longtime fundraiser.

Colleen Martin-Lauer, a top Democratic Party fundraiser in Maryland, has worked for Gov. Martin O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Rep. Chris Van Hollen on statewide races. She had been with Rawlings-Blake since 2007, and helped her win the 2011 campaign, in which the mayor spent more than $2 million.

The Democratic primary election for Baltimore mayor and other city offices is April 26, 2016. The Baltimore Sun asked some potential candidates whether they’re running. (Sean Welsh)

The mayor’s campaign treasurer, Charles G. Tildon III, portrayed the decision to part ways as mutual.

“The Mayor and Martin-Lauer Associates reached an amicable agreement to move forward in a different direction ahead of the 2016 campaign,” Tildon confirmed in a statement Wednesday. “Mayor Rawlings-Blake thanks Colleen Martin-Lauer for her wise counsel over the years and wishes her all the best.”

The mayor has hired Binetti Associates, run by Stephanie Binetti and her husband, Dave Kosak. A great opportunity for an experienced and savvy firm clearly on the rise. They will have their work cut out for them in this race, though.

SRB Vulnerable?

The Baltimore Sun has a good piece just posted this morning assessing the reelection prospects of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, complete with a list of potential candidates. Go read the whole thing. Here’s a sample:

A few months ago, many pundits considered the mayor practically unbeatable. The city’s crime and unemployment rates were down. She had substantial money in her campaign account. She even flirted with a run for U.S. Senate.

Then rioting broke out — followed by a dramatic spike in homicides.

Now, with the Democratic primary less than a year away, many are speculating whether Rawlings-Blake could survive a formidable challenge, though no opponent has officially emerged.

“The word on the street, as they say, is the mayor’s performance during and immediately after the riot in the city has really hurt her and that she is vulnerable should a credible candidate come forward,” said Donald F. Norris, director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Who’s running? Well, nobody – yet. But a long list of candidates are rumored to be considering the race, including Senator Catherine Pugh, City Council President Jack Young, Councilmen Nick Mosby and Carl Stokes, and Delegate Jill Carter. And former Mayor Sharon Dixon (removed from office after her conviction for embezzlement in 2010) is likely to run as well. “I’m doing some homework,” Dixon said of a potential campaign.

Two who aren’t running – Comptroller Joan Pratt and author Wes Moore.

The Sun noted that this will be the first election since Baltimore aligned its mayoral contests with presidential election years. Nina Kasniunas, political science professor at Goucher, is quoted about an SRB-Dixon matchup: “You’re going to get a different electorate that’s participating. That name recognition will do everything for Rawlings-Blake. The people voting in the presidential primaries are just going to remember Dixon’s scandal with the gift cards.”

One weakness of the story – they don’t even mention my “crazy idea” of Elijah Cummings for mayor. Big time sad face on that one. Cummings needs a post of his own, but as he was so ready to run for Senate, doesn’t it make anyone say “hmmmm” that he’s pulled back for such an extended period now?

Who wants to franchise Baltimore Scramble? Low, low prices are available. Operators are standing by. Call today.

A Politico Article Doesn’t Suck

That in and of itself is breaking news. Charles Pierce, my blog hero and role model, calls Politico “Tiger Beat on the Potomac.” Pretty much dead on.

But this article on the impact of Baltimore’s unrest on the fortunes of Larry Hogan, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Elijah Cummings is actually pretty good, addressing the politics in great detail. Don’t agree with all of it, but it’s way above their usual schlock. A taste:

The perils are clear for all three figures: Hogan, only the second Republican to win the governorship in nearly four decades, needs to cultivate an effective and bipartisan image if he has any chance of being reelected in deep-blue Maryland in three-and-a-half years. Rawlings-Blake, a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and an emerging regular on the Sunday show circuit, passed on Maryland’s 2016 Senate race but is likely seeking to build up positive statewide name recognition in preparation for a possible challenge to Hogan in 2018. Cummings is still considering the Senate race and occupies a key role in the House as Hillary Clinton’s main defender from ambitious GOP investigators.

Breaking News?

Hot and fresh news, less than 20 minutes old, because I care and because I have too much time on my hands today. Yvonne Wenger, City Hall reporter for the Baltimore Sun, suggests on the Twitter machine that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will not run for U.S. Senate.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, ask not for whom the courtesy phone rings. It rings for thee. The Baltimore area is calling. . . .

UPDATE: Wenger’s article about Rawlings-Blake’s comments is now up. Highlight:

I like what I am doing. I want to stay where I am – let’s just try to work on getting someone from Baltimore.

Hmmmmm. The phone is ringing again.