Du Burns announces that he'll challenge Schmoke in primary


Former Mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns removed any doubt about his plans for the upcoming political season yesterday by announcing that he will challenge Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in the Democratic primary in September.

"Why am I going to run? Because thousands of people have asked me to run," Mr. Burns told about two dozen members of the Christian Community Church of God on West Baltimore Street last night.

"The question in my mind is, 'Are we better off today than we were four years ago?' " Mr. Burns said. "I'd say no. It's his [Mayor Schmoke's] responsibility to make it better, and I don't think he has."

Responding to word that his former rival will run again, Mr. Schmoke said he had expected competition.

"I assumed he is going to run," Mr. Schmoke said. "But I assumed that a lot of people are going to run."

Until now, Mr. Burns, who in 1987 was unseated by Mr. Schmoke in a surprisingly close campaign, said he would only run if he felt he could raise enough money to run a credible campaign, which he said would cost upward of $300,000.

Yesterday, however, he said that a small group of volunteers has been successful enough in preliminary fund-raising efforts to

persuade him

that he can attract enough money.

Pressed to disclose how much he has actually raised to date, Mr. Burns said he did not know. He also said potential supporters might be reluctant to support his candidacy because of his decidedly underdog status.

Mr. Burns said business leaders who might help finance his campaign are cautious because "they don't know if I will win, and I don't know either, but they don't want to ruffle his feathers."

A precinct poll worker who climbed the political ladder to become City Council president and then mayor in 1987 when William Donald Schaefer left City Hall for the governor's mansion, Mr. Burns never seemed willing to fade from politics after his defeat.

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