Della loses support of fellow elected officials

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

Two Baltimore city councilmen have endorsed challenger Bill Ferguson, a 27-year-old aide to city schools CEO Andres Alonso who hopes to unseat veteran lawmaker Sen. George W. Della Jr. in a hotly contested Baltimore legislative race.

In an unusual move, William Cole and Ed Reisinger threw their support to Ferguson on Friday. This year Councilman Bill Henry also broke incumbency ranks and endorsed Hector Torres who is challenging Sen. Joan Carter Conway in Northeast Baltimore.

It's rare for elected officials to eschew an incumbent, and the decision by Cole, Reisinger and Henry carries some risks. If Della wins re-election, he won't soon forget the disloyalty. And neither will Conway.

State senators have significant sway over state-funded projects, liquor licenses and board appointments in the districts they represent, and the councilmen should expect retribution if they seek assistance in those areas.

But perhaps the city level representatives have their fingers in the wind, and sense an upset on Tuesday. In that case, Ferguson would surely remember the allies who stuck their necks out for him. As would Torres. Cole served with Della in the General Assembly, making the endorsement of a rival all the more significant.

"After years of letting our children down, we are on the verge of creating the school system that Baltimore's kids deserve," Reisinger said in a statement explaining his decision.

"We need new leadership, new ideas and new energy in the State Senate to get the job done. Bill Ferguson is the right person at the right time."

"As we looked at this race, there was a vast difference in what the candidates will be able to accomplish for Baltimore's future," said Cole in the statement.

"Great schools will help make all of our neighborhoods stronger. We made the decision that it would be wrong to stay on the sidelines. It's time for all of us to come together behind Bill Ferguson."