Traditionally, both the Democratic and Republican Party establishments will refuse to put their thumb on the scale of politics as it pertains to a primary battle for their party’s nomination. Yet, while the party itself may not get involved, it usually becomes evident who they really want to see get elected by the level of high-powered elected officials and powerbrokers who personally get involved in the campaign of one of the candidates.
At times it becomes more about future party aspirations or who can best represent the party on a local, state or national level; but sometimes it becomes personal between two warring factions of politicos and their base of supporters – making the election less about the individual candidates and more about these feuding politicians.
The latter scenario can be attributed to the battle for Baltimore’s 14th council district, as two political giants have taken sides in a local council race between two unassuming candidates. And in order to understand the underlining politics of this contest, you must first go back a year or two, when two delegates pledged their allegiances to two separate senatorial campaigns.
First was longtime state delegate Maggie McIntosh, the senior delegate for the city’s 43rd district and the powerful chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. She sought to see her longtime colleague and friend, Senator Joan Carter Conway, get re-elected for a fifth term after being appointed to the senate seat back in 1997. On the other hand, you had the district’s newest state delegate, Mary Washington, who reluctantly became a part of the Conway ticket back in 2010 and had other plans for who should be elected the district’s next state senator last year.
Instead of “playing ball” with the direction of the district’s politics being led by the Conway/McIntosh faction, Delegate Washington decided to forego a run for her third term as state delegate and instead chose to challenge Conway for the State Senate seat. This “betrayal” led to endless backstabbing and political trickery perpetrated by the McIntosh minions and aimed squarely at Washington and her allies, which included any local or citywide candidates that chose to side with her over the Conway camp.
Aligned with the Conway/McIntosh team was a sitting councilwoman and a team of central committee candidates willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure Washington’s defeat – as well as any of her political allies. Problem was, Delegate Washington won, as did many of her central committee members, becoming the district’s state senator and the political leader for this NE district. Included in this vast area of political power is the city’s 14th council district that has been led by a McIntosh ally for ages. It’s leader, Mary Pat Clarke, who has decided to finally call it quits and step aside for the next generation of political leader to assume the mantle.
With the resignation of this 78-year old political icon leaves a vacuum of local political leadership, and a void of experience brought to the position by Clarke, who has held several political offices on and off since 1975 (the year before this writer was born). Now comes the important transition, who will assume the office once thought to be impenetrable so long as it was represented by the Legend of MPClarke. And while anyone truly looking to become victorious in this district next year would certainly seek the blessings of this icon, she has let it be known that she will remain neutral throughout the primaries. But will she really?
While Washington has made it clear that her interests lie with her unyielding support of council candidate Joseph Kane, an Iraq war veteran who worked tirelessly to help get Washington elected Senator just last year; it appears that McIntosh has chosen to throw her political capital behind Odette Ramos, a democratic central committee representative and longtime supporter of the Conway/McIntosh machine.
In fact, Ramos got her start in local politics years ago helping to get Clarke elected to office, so to believe that Clarke won’t do whatever she can to assist in helping Ramos win her council seat is naïve at best and downright foolish for any politically astute individual to even consider. And while Clarke may not personally stand side-by-side with either of the two candidates, or personally donate or produce any mailers or robo-calls on eithers behalf; her behind the scenes support through surrogates such as Delegate McIntosh will go a long way in helping the Ramos candidacy.
However, given the fact that the Clarke/McIntosh/Conway influence came up short in last year’s democratic primary for state senate, whose to say that their support will mean much when it comes to who the voters of this racially diverse district decide to elect as their next representative. Though as a candidate, you’d much rather have their support than not, especially given the fact that Washington’s newfound political clout isn’t as proven yet when compared to the generational and entrenched machine support of the Clarke and McIntosh factions that stretch far and wide throughout the Northeast corridor of the 14th district for the past quarter century.
Either way, this race will certainly be one of the most contentious races to watch in 2020. And I’m sure that given the personal nature of the politics being played on behalf of these two candidates, it won’t be lacking in political mudslinging – both directly and indirectly.