Baltimore mayoral election, 2007

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The 2007 Baltimore mayoral election was held on November 6, 2007. Because Baltimore's electorate is overwhelmingly Democratic, Sheila Dixon's victory in the Democratic primary on September 11 all but assured her of victory in the general election,[1] and she defeated Republican candidate Elbert Henderson in the general election by an overwhelming majority. Dixon, who as president of the Baltimore City Council became mayor in January 2007 when Martin O'Malley resigned to become Governor of Maryland, was the first woman to be elected to the office.

Background and candidates[edit]

Martin O'Malley, the winner of the previous mayoral election, was elected governor of Maryland in 2006. Therefore, city council president Sheila Dixon became mayor for the final year of what had been O'Malley's term, and subsequently ran for reelection to a full term. Other candidates for the Democratic nomination included city councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr.; Andrey Bundley, a former school administrator who was O'Malley's only major opponent for the Democratic nomination in 2003; Frank M. Conaway, Sr., the only person, other than Dixon, in the race to have won a city-wide election, who withdrew before the primary,[2] Maryland state delegate Jill P. Carter;[3] and perennial Baltimore-area candidate and social activist A. Robert Kaufman. Elbert Henderson was the sole candidate for the Republican nomination; he was the Republican nominee in the previous election, losing by a wide margin to O'Malley.[4][5] Kweisi Mfume, former Congressman and president of the NAACP, was at one point rumored to be considering a run,[6] but ultimately chose not to join the race. The Green Party did not nominate a mayoral candidate.[7]

Dixon had the advantage of incumbency, but Mitchell, who was seen as the mayor's most prominent opponent, hoped to overcome that advantage with a grassroots campaign.[8] The beginning of Dixon's term and campaign was dogged by an ethics investigation, although the city's Board of Ethics ultimately found no reason to prosecute her.[9] An upsurge of violent crime in Baltimore during the first half of 2007 had an impact on early campaigning. Dixon launched a number of anti-crime initiatives, focusing on illegal guns.[10] Mitchell's initial campaign moves focused on crime; Carter, criticizing Dixon's administration for what she called overzealous policing, promised a total revamp of the police department, stating that "if we had leadership in this city, we would have already changed police commissioners.[4]" The Baltimore police commissioner later resigned his post on July 19, in an act that some observers felt would affect the course of the race.[11]

July 2007[edit]

With less than two months remaining before the Democratic primary, Carter officially announced her candidacy, and poll of likely Democratic voters commissioned by the Baltimore Sun showed Mayor Dixon holding a comfortable lead over her nearest challenger. The poll, released on July 16, 2007, had Dixon leading Councilman Mitchell with 47 percent of the likely primary voters to Mitchell's 15 percent. The rest of the field was in single digits, below the poll's margin of error, with 28 percent undecided. Although candidates would not be required to release fundraising numbers until August, Dixon was reported to have sizeable lead in this area as well.[12][13]

August 2007[edit]

With little more than a month left until the primary election, Dixon further distanced herself from her primary opponents. On August 3, 2007, Mitchell's father resigned as treasurer of his son's mayoral campaign after it was discovered that he spent more than $40,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses.[14] Despite this incident, Mitchell said that his campaign remained focused on the problems facing Baltimore City. Meanwhile, Carter focused her campaign on the impending 50% BGE rate hike calling for re-regulation, reforming public education, and effective policing, and restoring integrity to City Hall while continuing her attack on Dixon by charging her with not showing at local political forums and for sending city employees in her stead. At a press conference outside City Hall, Carter and a campaign worker dressed in a yellow chicken suit handed out copies of a letter she sent to the State Ethics commission complaining about the practice.[15]

Televised debate[edit]

On Monday night, August 27, 2007, all eight democratic candidates for Mayor appeared in a debate televised by Maryland Public Television and WBAL-TV. During his introduction, candidate Conaway announced that he was withdrawing from the race and throwing "his money and support" behind candidate Mitchell.[16] The debate lasted fifty-five minutes with each candidate giving an opening and closing statement and answering questions posed by reporters in between. The debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Fundraising[edit]

Baltimore's WJZ-TV reported that the Dixon campaign said that as of August 30, it had more than $480,000 left to spend in the final two weeks before the September 11th Democratic primary. Carter's campaign reported having just over $8,000 on hand,[17] and Bundley's campaign reported having $15,000 left as of the mid August 2007 campaign reporting date.[18] Mitchell had just over $115,000 in cash on hand as of August 26.[19]

September 2007[edit]

Just over a week before election day, a September 2 Baltimore Sun poll had Dixon maintaining her strong lead. According to the Sun, "Dixon leads City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. by 46 percent to 19 percent - a 27 percentage-point spread - according to the poll conducted by OpinionWorks, an independent Annapolis-based firm." According to a number of experts, the race never really became competitive. Lenneal J. Henderson, a professor at the University of Baltimore's School of Public Affairs, said, "I think it is over. It would take a huge misstep on the part of Sheila Dixon for her not to win this one.[20]" Bundley (4%) and Carter (2%) showed no improvement over the previously released July poll.

Primary election: Dixon victory[edit]

On the night of the primary, less than three hours after the polls closed, Mitchell conceded defeat and Dixon claimed victory in the primary election.

Primary election results[edit]

These are the final, official results for the Democratic primary, as reported on the city of Baltimore's election board Web site.[21]

Candidate Votes  %
Sheila Dixon 54,381 63.1%
Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr. 20,376 23.7%
Andrey Bundley 6,543 7.6%
Jill P. Carter 2,372 2.8%
A. Robert Kaufman 885 1.0%
Mike Schaefer 762 0.9%
Frank Conaway 533 0.6%
Phillip Brown 273 0.3%

Elbert Henderson ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

General election campaign[edit]

Because of the city's overwhelmingly Democratic tilt, campaigning largely ceased after the primary, with Dixon and other city-wide candidates maintaining "bare-bones" campaign staffs.[22] On a low-turnout general election day, Dixon defeated her Republican challenger with more than 87 percent of the vote.

General election results[edit]

These are the unofficial results for the general election, as reported on the city of Baltimore's election board Web site.[23]

Candidate Votes  %
Sheila Dixon 34,457 87.7%
Elbert Henderson 4,806 12.2%

Other city elections[edit]

All other Baltimore city officers were also up for election simultaneously with the mayor, including the fourteen members of the Baltimore City Council (elected from single-member districts) and the City Council President and City Comptroller (both elected citywide). Incumbent comptroller Joan Pratt ran unopposed in both the Democratic primary and the general election, and none of the twelve council members seeking re-election faced serious competition in either election; one ran unopposed in the primary[24] and seven ran unopposed in the general election.[25] All fourteen council members returned in the general election were Democrats,[24] as has been the case in every election since 1939.[22]

The race for the Democratic nomination for City Council President was perhaps the closest of the election cycle. The two major candidates were incumbent Stephanie Rawlings Blake, a former council member who had been appointed to fill the position with Dixon became mayor, and Michael Sarbanes, a community activist and the son of former United States Senator Paul Sarbanes and brother of U.S. Congressman John Sarbanes. A July poll had the two virtually tied, with 27 percent of respondents favoring Sarbanes and 26 percent favoring Rawlings Blake, with Councilman Kenneth N. Harris, Sr. a distant third at 8 percent.[26] Rawlings Blake subsequently overtook Sarbanes, however, and won the primary election with 49 percent of the vote to Sarbanes' 38 percent.[24] In the general election, the incumbent handily defeated her only opponent, Green candidate Maria Allwine, garnering 82 percent of the vote.[25]

Mayoral endorsements[edit]

A number of city groups offered endorsements of the various candidates over the course of the campaign:

Democratic Party
Republican Party
Candidate Endorser Date of Endorsement Comments
Andrey Bundley none listed yet no endorsements listed on campaign web-site
Phillip Brown none listed yet no campaign web-site yet
Jill P. Carter ACORN[27] July 31, 2007 Community organization that spearheaded campaign for Question P in 2002
Frank Conaway Withdrew 8/27/07
Sheila Dixon SEIU June 12, 2007 national union of service workers, with local in Baltimore
United Auto Workers [28] June 20, 2007
Laborers Baltimore Washington Council [29] July 12, 2007 national union of construction laborers and public employees representing 5,000 laborers in Baltimore
Md & DC State Council of Machinists [30] July 2, 2007 all machinists locals in Baltimore
UNITE HERE [31] July 12, 2007 represents 20,000 hospitality, food service, laundry, retail and apparel workers in Baltimore and the surrounding region.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters [32] July 14, 2007 represents 12,000 members
Baltimore Retired Police Benevolent Union [33] July 14, 2007 represents retired Baltimore police officers.
Baltimore AFL-CIO[34] July 19, 2007 all AFL-CIO affiliated unions in Baltimore
Peter Franchot[35] July 24, 2007 Maryland state comptroller, polled well in Baltimore City
Elijah Cummings[36] August 12, 2007 Maryland congressman, polled well in Baltimore City
Martin O'Malley[36] August 13, 2007 Maryland governor, polled well in Baltimore City
Kweisi Mfume[37] August 13, 2007 former Maryland congressman, former head of the NAACP
Progressive Maryland[38] August 22, 2007 statewide progressive organization with over 1,000 Baltimore members
The Baltimore Sun September 2, 2007 Baltimore's major daily newspaper
The Baltimore Afro-American August 25, 2007 published weekly
Desiree Dotson Withdrew - 19 March 2007 [1]
A. Robert Kaufman none listed yet no endorsements listed on campaign web-site
Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr. Douglas Gansler January, 2007 Maryland Attorney General
Baltimore FOP July 24, 2007 organization of police officers
Baltimore City Sheriff's Office Lodge July 31, 2007 organization of deputy sheriffs[39]
Baltimore City Firefighters Local 734 August 9, 2007 organization of active and retired firefighters[40]
Baltimore City Fire Officers Local 964 August 9, 2007 organization of active and retired fire officers[40]
Frank Conaway August 27, 2007 Baltimore City Clerk of the Courts, former 2007 mayoral candidate.
City Paper September 5, 2007 Baltimore City alternative newspaper, published weekly
Mike Schaefer none listed yet no endorsements listed on campaign web-site
Elbert Henderson none listed no web-site yet

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.wmdt.com/wires/displaystory.asp?id=65600131
  2. ^ Topic Galleries - baltimoresun.com
  3. ^ http://www.abc2news.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=8ff3cfdd-ef68-4971-9787-d6062bda00b9
  4. ^ a b 2007 city candidates set - baltimoresun.com
  5. ^ http://www.examiner.com/a-810501~Carter_announces_candidacy_for_mayor.html
  6. ^ Tom Moore: Mfume for … Baltimore City mayor - Examiner.com
  7. ^ Baltimore Green Party
  8. ^ Topic Galleries - baltimoresun.com
  9. ^ http://wbal.com/commentary/defilippo/story.asp?articleid=53965
  10. ^ Baltimore Mayor Unveils Strategy to Attack Increase in Gun Crime - New York Times
  11. ^ http://wtop.com/?sid=1193365&nid=104
  12. ^ Dixon dominates field - baltimoresun.com
  13. ^ http://www.abc2news.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=d2ff4b48-c6fe-4935-8d02-73fef21500ba
  14. ^ Mitchell's Father Quits As Campaign Treasurer - Baltimore News Story - WBAL Baltimore
  15. ^ Carter: Mayor's staff at events - Examiner.com
  16. ^ http://wbal.com/news/story.asp?articleid=62412
  17. ^ Campaign Finance Database - Summary report search results
  18. ^ Campaign Finance Database - Summary report search results
  19. ^ wjz.com - Dixon Keeps Fundraising Lead With New Poll Ahead
  20. ^ Dixon keeps strong lead - baltimoresun.com
  21. ^ City of Baltimore - Board of Elections
  22. ^ a b Topic Galleries - baltimoresun.com
  23. ^ http://www.baltimorecity.gov/government/elections/results/ City of Baltimore - Board of Elections
  24. ^ a b c Maryland State Board of Elections
  25. ^ a b City of Baltimore, Maryland
  26. ^ A tight contest for front-runner - baltimoresun.com
  27. ^ http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/elections/blog/2007/07/miscellany_1.html
  28. ^ UAW Endorses Mayor Dixon | Mayor Sheila Dixon
  29. ^ Endorsements | Mayor Sheila Dixon
  30. ^ State Council of Machinists Endorses Mayor Sheila Dixon | Mayor Sheila Dixon
  31. ^ Service and Hospitality Workers Unite Behind Sheila Dixon for Mayor | Mayor Sheila Dixon
  32. ^ Carpenters Back Dixon for Mayor | Mayor Sheila Dixon
  33. ^ Retired Police Endorse Mayor Dixon | Mayor Sheila Dixon
  34. ^ Labor group backs Dixon, Rawlings-Blake - baltimoresun.com
  35. ^ http://wbal.com/news/story.asp?articleid=61086
  36. ^ a b http://wbal.com/news/story.asp?articleid=61816
  37. ^ O'Malley, Mfume Endorse Dixon In Mayor's Race - Baltimore News Story - WBAL Baltimore
  38. ^ Progressive Maryland Endorses Dixon for Mayor, Rawlings-Blake for City Council President in Baltimore City Primary Election | Mayor Sheila Dixon
  39. ^ Topic Galleries - baltimoresun.com
  40. ^ a b http://wbal.com/news/story.asp?articleid=61734

External links[edit]

Candidate Web sites[edit]