Despite DNC role, Rawlings-Blake free to endorse Md. candidates

Officers of the Democratic National Committee generally refrain from endorsing candidates in Democratic Party primaries.

But Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the secretary of the DNC, has thrown her support behind Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, who is running for governor. In doing so, she passed over Democrats Douglas F. Gansler, Maryland's attorney general, and state Del. Heather R. Mizeur. She also left some people grumbling that someone in her position should have remained neutral.

So, does the Democratic National Committee have a policy against its officers making endorsements in Democratic primaries? It turns out the answer is no.

The committee's prohibition on endorsements applies only to presidential primaries, officials at the organization said Friday.

Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said she's staying neutral in other states' races, but felt the need to endorse Brown.

"Her support of Anthony Brown is an extension of years of support," Harris said. "She is not in violation of any DNC rules. It was understood when she accepted the position with the DNC that she had certain people who she supports and she would continue to support them."

Harris said Rawlings-Blake has been asked to endorse candidates in the District of Columbia and in West Virginia, but declined. He said such endorsements could have been interpreted as representing the DNC. When Rawlings-Blake endorses in Maryland, it's clear she's doing so as Baltimore's mayor, he said.

"She doesn't want to use her position as DNC secretary to give the impression that it's an endorsement [by] the DNC," he said. "In Maryland, it's different. People in Maryland can separate the two."

Harris said the mayor was still deciding whether to support other candidates in Maryland in this year's election.

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