Rawlings-Blake involved in race for successor?

Baltimore Sun

I would have figured Patrick Turner had done his last favor for a Baltimore politician.

But the developer, who landed most uncomfortably on the witness stand after buying $1,000 in gift cards at Sheila Dixon's request, seems to be doing someone else's bidding.

I have it on good authority that Turner approached at least one member of the City Council and urged him to support Councilman Bill Cole for council president.

Next thing, we'll hear Ron Lipscomb is out twisting arms.

Local developers and business leaders have been pushing for Cole over Councilman Bernard "Jack" Young. Many council members believe the effort has been orchestrated by Mayor-designate Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, who has denied it. (More on that later.)

Some suspect the pressure comes from Annapolis, given that Rawlings-Blake persuaded her father, then-Del. Howard Rawlings, to support Martin O'Malley when he ran for mayor in 1999. The governor also could be returning a favor to Cole, who'd worked on his campaigns for mayor and governor and was chairman of the O'Malley-Brown slate committee. No fewer than four O'Malley brothers, governor included, worked for Cole on Primary Day in September 2007. One of them, Paul O'Malley, was Cole's campaign chairman.

"The governor and the mayor-designee are good friends, and the governor's reached out to the new mayor to offer whatever help he could, but he has no interest in swaying a council president's race one way or the other," O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec said.

That Adamec used to be Rawlings-Blake's spokesman, and that current Rawlings-Blake spokesman Ryan O'Doherty goes back with O'Malley since O'Malley was mayor and O'Doherty's e-mail address was linked to MD4Bush, in no way undermines that arm's-length image.

But back to Turner, who through a spokeswoman said, "I have not made any calls on behalf of either candidate." I'd been told by a source close to the situation that Turner approached the council member in person, which Turner's statement does not rule out. (More on artful responses later.)

I hate to be unduly suspicious, but let's not forget: Turner lied about being Developer B in the Dixon indictment. I asked the Turner spokeswoman to clarify if he also denied making an in-person appeal for Cole. She said she would check but did not get back to me before deadline.

In any case, I'm told the council member whom Turner approached didn't budge.

Maybe Developer B should have thrown in some gift cards.

What matters: straight talkIf the future mayor thinks Councilman Cole would be a better council president than Councilman Young, big whoop. The incoming mayor is entitled to her opinion. She's even entitled to use her influence to help Cole win the office.

I only get interested when Rawlings-Blake denies, despite evidence to the contrary, that she is pushing for Cole. She claims to have no preference about who's City Hall's No. 2 when she moves up to No. 1.

Yet two City Council members, Rikki Spector and Sharon Green Middleton, told The Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper that Rawlings-Blake urged them to support Cole. Another, Council Vice President Ed Reisinger, said he was approached by a top Rawlings-Blake staffer.

Cole comes across as no more forthright than his behind-the-scenes benefactor.

When Scharper asked about reports that Rawlings-Blake was pushing for him, he responded: "I haven't sat in any meeting with her when she lobbied my colleagues."

Has she lobbied them privately?

Cole: "She would have no reason to apprise me of that."

And I'd always thought the Rawlings-Blake-Cole bond stemmed from the "C" in Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake's name, which stands for Cole.

Seems instead that, just as O'Malley and Dixon were Partners in Progress, Rawlings-Blake and Cole are Partners in Prestidigitation.

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