Some key members of a political club that Clarence H. Du Burns helped to found are supporting Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in Thursday's Democratic mayoral primary, saying "the traditional politics of the past must remain in the past."
Schmoke was on hand yesterday in the heart of East Baltimore -- bTC a Burns political stronghold in past elections -- to accept the endorsement from several Eastside Democratic Organization board members.
The endorsement is a blow to Burns' mayoral campaign because it comes from a group of people who formed the heart of his political organization in previous election campaigns. Also, Burns chairman of the board of EDO and helped found the organization 23 years ago.
"I like to think Du taught me extremely well," said Del. Hattie N. Harrison, D-City, who hosted the event in her district office at Milton Avenue and Chase Street. "But one of the things he taught me was that you have to do things for the good of the community. That's what we are doing here. We have our eye on the future."
The endorsement from the board members came less than two weeks after Burns engineered an endorsement from EDO members by using his power as chairman to call a meeting on the subject. At the meeting, there was a 52-0 vote to endorse Burns. "The real honest-to-goodness EDO rank-and-file was not there," Harrison said.
Marie J. Washington, EDO's vice president, said the club's official position will be to support neither Schmoke nor Burns, despite the vote at the meeting put together by Burns. Several board members, however, say Schmoke is their candidate, although the board was deadlocked on the endorsement question.
"We believe that tradition politics of the past must remain in the past, and we as an organization must move to the future with a mayor who understands the changing needs of our city," said the EDO Schmoke supporters in a statement.
But Burns, through a spokesman, dismissed the endorsement. "All of those people work for the city or run programs with city money," the spokesman said. "They had to stand up for Schmoke."
After the announcement yesterday, several EDO stalwarts led Schmoke on a quick campaign swing through the neighborhood.
"This is really in keeping with the theme of my campaign," Schmoke said. "We want to move forward. I know this was a tough decision for many of these people."