Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown Monday at a West Baltimore bakery on Pennsylvania Avenue, picking a spot of significance to African-American history as she offered support for Brown's bid to become Maryland's first black governor.
"I don't think there's been a governor to win a race without the support of the city of Baltimore," Rawlings-Blake told a small crowd at The Avenue Bakery. "Baltimore matters in this election, and because of that, I'm here to say I support [Brown] and encourage the citizens of Baltimore to do the same."
Rawlings-Blake said Brown won her endorsement because of his work to support the city during his tenure as lieutenant governor, including passing stricter gun laws and a plan that will raise $1.1 billion to rebuild city schools.
The mayor's backing is the latest in a string of high-profile endorsements the Brown campaign collected since he became the first and only Democrat to jump into the 2014 race. Term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley, also a Democrat, endorsed Brown, a former delegate from Prince George's County. More recently, Brown secured the support of 70 other mayors during last month's conference of the Maryland Municipal League.
Endorsements may not always translate into votes, but political scientist Thomas Schaller of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County called Rawlings-Blake's announcement "big."
"Brown has a bit of an inside track with African-American voters, but he is well known mostly in the suburbs [and] Prince George's County," Schaller said. The mayor's support, Schaller said, "gives him a huge head start."
Brown named rising political star Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate. Two Republicans — Harford County Executive David Craig and Anne Arundel County Del. Ron George — have also launched campaigns. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, a Democrat, said he plans to announce his campaign in September.
Rawlings-Blake gave her endorsement at a bakery that she said symbolizes how "how we are going to get not just Pennsylvania Avenue back, but Baltimore back."
The thoroughfare was once the cultural center of Baltimore's African-American community and home to the Royal Theatre, which hosted jazz greats like Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway. Today, public and private investments are reshaping a neighborhood that had become an example of urban blight. Bakery owner James Hamlin commissioned an artist — and paid the royalties, he said — to have the notes and lyrics to Calloway's "Everybody Eats When They Come to my House" painted in a parking lot mural.
In accepting the endorsement, Brown said, "If you're a Marylander, then Baltimore City is your city."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun