Frank Conaway Jr. won the election, but a host of powerful people hoped he wouldn't
By By Van Smith
Nov 25, 2014 | 12:10 PM
The last-ditch write-in campaign by state Del. Shawn Tarrant (D) to unseat his 40th District colleague, Del. Frank Conaway Jr. (D), failed by a long shot, but some Democratic heavy-hitters supported it, according to campaign-finance records. Tarrant's effort was prompted by Conaway's late-October posting on YouTube of bizarre videos in which he rambles incoherently and at length, sparking public questioning about his fitness for office—though documented concerns about his mental health were first reported by City Paper back in 2006.
Support for Tarrant came in the form of money and in-kind donations flowing into his account between Oct. 28 and Election Day on Nov. 3, the records show. His biggest backer was Baltimore County state Sen. Delores Kelley, who donated $1,000 from her campaign and spent another $250 in tickets to a fundraiser. Also transferring $1,000 from their campaign committees to Tarrant's were Howard County state Del. Guy Guzzone and Montgomery County state Del. Kirill Reznick, while $500 came from the campaign of state Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, whose district lies in Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties. The campaigns of Baltimore County state delegates Stephen Lafferty and Dan Morhaim and Baltimore City state Del. Peter Hammen each gave $250.
Other big-ticket donors to Tarrant's write-in effort were the public-employees union AFSCME ($2,000) and Political Boost, the Baltimore City-based political consulting firm whose 2010 announcement that it would be joining Baltimore Development Corporation's Emerging Technology Center in Canton was made by its business-development director: Kent Blake, husband of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Political Boost gave Tarrant's campaign nearly $3,000 worth of robocalls in the week leading up to Election Day.
Conaway Jr. may have more political colleagues who think he's unfit for public office, but those whose campaigns made last-minute donations to Tarrant's campaign-finance committee were willing to go public with their sentiments.