As reported on first by DMVDaily News last week, Councilman Brandon Scott, who on Friday seemed one vote shy of securing the eight votes necessary to become Baltimore City’s next City Council President, has reportedly whipped more than enough votes to guarantee his ascension to higher office later this evening.
Following the resignation of Mayor Catherine Pugh last week, City Council President Bernard ‘Jack’ Young automatically became the city’s 51st Mayor – per the provision within the city charter. However, the vacancy for his former job wasn’t so simple, as his council colleagues are responsible for voting for whoever was to replace Young as Council President.
For the past month, council vice-president Sharon Green-Middleton had been temporarily serving in that role as Young was serving as Ex-Officio Mayor during Pugh’s extended leave of absence. But once Mayor Pugh officially resigned last week, that began a chain of events that will lead to Scott becoming the city’s 21st council president since the change to unicameral council in 1923.
Scott, who seemed to have the support of seven council members on Friday, according to our insiders, wound up convincing two supporters of Councilwoman Middleton – who was also lobbying members to succeed Young – over the weekend. It appears that retiring council members Edward Reisinger (D-10) and Mary Pat Clarke (D-14) – who had served as Council President from 1987-1995 – became encouraged by Scott’s plans for the future, and also realizing that he seemed to have the support to become the next Council President.
“What we didn’t want to see is another democratic squabble the likes of which happened just last week in Annapolis,” said one council member wishing to remain anonymous. “There was a sentiment amongst my colleagues that whoever secured enough votes that the other would drop their bid and we would vote as a unified body come Monday night.”
That unification apparently also came with a deal, that Scott would continue to allow for Councilwoman Middleton to serve as the council’s vice-president, which comes with a higher salary and is essentially the floor leader for the Mayor. And since Mayor Young was lobbying on behalf of Middleton, it makes sense that she remains his eyes and ears on the council floor.
There were also discussions on whether or not Scott would change certain committee chairs, which is the duty and responsibility of the Council President; or choose to keep the same leadership appointed by Young. One committee assignment that will have to change is the chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee, which Scott has presided over since 2017.
Other reports have also surfaced as to whether Scott will allow for certain members of Young’s Council President staff to remain on the fourth floor (in the CP’s Office), or if he will clean house completely and bring his own cadre of staffers. This is important given that Mayor Young has repeatedly promised to run for re-election as Council President, deciding against running for Mayor in next year’s mayoral election; thus wanting to keep some of his staffers in the council president’s office awaiting his return, which could cause confusion amongst staff and council members considering a future citywide race, including Scott.
While reported to have his eyes on the Mayor’s seat next year, Scott could very well get comfortable in the role as Council President over the next year and decide to instead challenge Young for his seat. Councilwoman Middleton promised not to seek the citywide seat if Young decided to seek re-election, though it’s been rumored for years now that she has had her eyes on that seat. But if Young decides to run for Mayor, that may encourage Scott to run for the seat he’s in, which may prompt Middleton to forego a run for re-election in her 6th district seat and decide instead to challenge Scott for the council presidency.
While all those possibilities remain speculation at this point, the one certainty appears to be that later this evening, Baltimore City will have a new City Council President, and his name is Brandon Scott.