Earlier this week, the Metro Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO union made a stunning announcement, endorsing a third-party candidate for the first time in the union’s history. The federation of unions that represents over 150,000 workers across the Baltimore region voted to support Green Party candidate Franca Muller Paz over the Democratic nominee and current incumbent, Councilman Robert Stokes, by a more than 2/3 majority.
The powerful union, which has taken a new and progressive approach to endorsements since Jermaine Jones took over the helm from longtime stalwart Ernie Greco, sought to take a second bite at the apple in trying to unseat Stokes – a first-term incumbent who defeated a crowded field of democratic challengers in the June primaries. It was during this race that the union supported another Stokes’ challenger, attorney Phillip Westry, who came up a few hundred votes short of knocking off the incumbent councilman.
And while the latest endorsement took many by surprise, since unions tend to take sides in the democratic primaries but either support the democratic nominee in the General Election or stay out of the race altogether; the one person that wasn’t shocked by the news was Stokes himself. “This isn’t news to me, given that this union has made a mockery out of the endorsement process since Jermaine took over, never even giving me a chance to make my case during the interview process, but rather taking his orders from his democratic buddy over in the 45th district,” says Stokes, referencing State Senator Cory McCray.
“Ernie [Greco] has to be shaking his head in disbelief that this guy has turned his union into an extension of McCray’s BEST Democratic Club, never giving candidates that they don’t plan to vote for a simple interview, and then endorsing a third-party candidate which goes against the very democratic principles of their union,” Stokes says. “However, these endorsements they continue to roll-out mean nothing in my district, as most of those folks don’t even live in the City of Baltimore, let alone the 12th council district. My folks want to see real tangible solutions to the systemic issues that continue to plague our communities, not some fly-by-night socialist who has no track record of doing anything of substance in the district.”
However, the Muller Paz campaign continues to tout their candidates work and her recent streak of endorsements, including the recent AFL-CIO nod, along with the support of groups such as the Sierra Club, Democratic Socialists of America, and Our Revolution to name a few. She has raised over $70,000 over the past few weeks, a considerable amount given her third-party status, and received the support of a handful of democratic candidates who ran against Stokes earlier this year, including Gary Crum and Dave Heilker.
Muller Paz, a 32-year old Peru immigrant who now lives in Mt. Vernon and teaches in Baltimore City Schools, says that as an elected Baltimore Teacher Union building representative, she has fought for her union members to have a voice at North Avenue and in Annapolis, and that she will continue that fight for Baltimore’s working families if elected to the council. One of her main priorities on the campaign trail has been immediately raising the minimum wage to $15-an-hour and having it automatically rise with inflation. “If our city is serious about challenging systemic racism that has denied wealth to our Black community, it starts with making sure people earn the wages and benefits we all deserve,” she states in an issued press release.
The race for the 12th district council seat also includes Republican candidate Eugene Boikai, who does not appear to have a website and hasn’t responded to a request for comment. The race will be determined on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 with the winner taking office the first week of December.