Larry Vincent, a clothing store owner who lost a bid four years ago to become mayor of Annapolis, entered the race yesterday, charging that Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins takes credit "for things he has had nothing to do with."
Saying he wants to "restore professional government to Annapolis," Mr. Vincent, a Republican, told about 75 supporters at the Rustic Inn Restaurant he wants to make Maryland's capital "the best small city in America."
Mr. Vincent's entry sets up a possible three-way race. Dennis M. Callahan, the former mayor who lost to Mr. Hopkins, 67, in a stunning Democratic primary defeat four years ago, is running as an independent.
At yesterday's announcement, County Councilwoman Diane Evans and County Executive Robert R. Neall, both Republicans, flanked Mr. Vincent. But Mr. Neall said his appearance did not constitute an endorsement of Mr. Vincent, who headed the city-county relations section of the executive's transition team.
"I'm glad we have someone like Larry Vincent enter the race," Mr. Neall said, adding that he would not endorse a candidate until the filing deadline passes.
In a brief speech that avoided specific issues, Mr. Vincent touched on everything from crime to quality of life to traffic and transportation.
He said he is running because "Annapolis is my home" and he hasa "deep respect for the long and proud history of Annapolis.
"I think I act as an excellent bridge between past and present," he added.
Mr. Vincent, 47, owns Laurance Clothing on Main Street and is active in the business community. He serves as a member of several boards and is past president of the Annapolis Business Coalition. He has never held elected political office.
In answering questions from reporters, Mr. Vincent said he believes the 51-year-old Mr. Callahan's entry in the race will split the Democratic vote and help him win the election.
"Our plan is to go for 50 percent of the vote regardless of how many people are in the race," he said. "There is a school of thought that 34 percent of the vote will be enough. We think that Mr. Callahan will hurt Mr. Hopkins more than us."
Four years ago, Mr. Vincent described Mr. Hopkins' tenure as a city alderman as hollow and said his biggest achievement was adjourningcouncil meetings. Yesterday, he said Mr. Hopkins continually takes credit for improvements he had nothing do with. Mr. Vincent cited specifically a community visitors center to be built next to the new Gott's Court parking garage.
"He bragged about it, but he had little or nothing to do with it," Mr. Vincent said. "The business people did in seven months what the government couldn't do for decades."