5 former candidates back Tarrant's write-in campaign against Conaway

After rambling Conaway videos, five former opponents back write-in candidate

Five Baltimore Democrats who lost to state Del. Frank M. Conaway Jr. in this year's primary election are asking voters to support a write-in candidate after Conaway posted a series of rambling videos online in which he referred to himself as "meta," discussed Sasquatch and Yeti, and asked whether he lives in a hologram.

"These shocking statements and strange behaviors must be put into question," the former candidates said in a statement. "We do not believe Frank Conaway, Jr.'s conspiracy theories lead to a better future."

Conaway, who has written books entitled "Trapezium Giza Pyramid Artificial Black Hole Theory," "Baptist Gnostic Christian Eubonic Kundalinion Spiritual Ki Do Hermeneutic Metaphysics: The Word: Hermeneutics" and "Christian Kundalini Science- Proof of the Soul- Cryptogram Solution of Egyptian Stela 55001- & Opening the Hood of Ra" — took the videos off the web last week. The two-term delegate said he was concerned about his various business plans being public.

But the videos prompted a write-in challenge from Del. Shawn Z. Tarrant, who finished fourth out of 10 candidates in the Democratic primary for the 40th District. The top three advance to the general election.

Tarrrant has said Conaway is "not fit to serve."

Five candidates who finished behind Tarrant — Douglas Barry, Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, Quianna Cooke, Rob LaPin and Bill Marker — said they are encouraging their supporters to skip over Conaway and write in Tarrant's name in the upcoming election.

"This adds to what a number of citizens have been thinking over the past eight years of Conaway, Jr.'s questionable leadership," they said in the statement.

"It's scary," said Cheatham, a former president of the Baltimore NAACP. "During debates, we would be looking at each other trying to figure what his responses meant. Many folks didn't realize they were voting for the son. They thought they were voting for the father."

Conaway, the member of a Baltimore political family that includes Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway Sr., received the second-most votes in the primary field, ahead of fellow Del. Barbara A. Robinson, but behind newcomer Antonio Hayes.

There are no Republicans or other candidates running for the three seats.

Tarrant said he was "absolutely thrilled" by the statement of support from his former opponents.

"They came together without my knowledge," he said. "It was a really nice, collegial gesture. People who once ran against me want to see me back there."

Conaway declined to comment.

City Comptroller Joan Pratt, who oversees Conaway in his job in the City Hall mailroom, said she is investigating whether any city resources were used in making the videos. She said her review would be complete by next week.

"I'm doing an independent investigation and review," she said. "I'd like to review all the videos before I make a decision. I want to gather all the facts."

Conaway has said the videos were not posted from City Hall.

In his eight years in the General Assembly, Conaway has been the primary sponsor of two bills that became law — one that increased penalties for theft-related crimes and another that increased penalties for distributing the hallucination-inducing plant Salvia divinorum to persons under the age of 21.

Conaway defended his record in Annapolis last week in a statement sent from his father's campaign email account.

He emphasized he has voted against tax increases, introduced a bill requiring city police to wear body cameras and sought to reform erroneous speed cameras.

"It is my unwavering belief in the effective representation of all the people, regardless of their differing values, beliefs and viewpoints; which has led me to humbly continue in my service in the legislature and has led to my re-election for a third term in Annapolis," he wrote.

Del. Curt Anderson, who shares an office in Annapolis with Conaway, said he believes his colleague is misunderstood.

"In terms of his job performance, he's pretty normal," Anderson said. "He doesn't talk all that crazy stuff when he's on the floor. He's got his weird side, which most of us do and keep private."

Anderson said Conaway sometimes has good ideas for legislation, such as the bill on body cameras, which other lawmakers "dismissed out of hand because it was Frank Conaway Jr."

"He introduced the body camera bill before it was a major issue. If he's crazy, he's crazy like a fox," Anderson said. "I like him and I try to support him. In terms of showing up and representing his constituents, he's OK."

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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