Seeking to highlight his record of fiscal management and his national stature, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced yesterday the endorsement of his bid for a third term by Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and the mayors of Atlanta and San Jose, Calif.
The venerable Mr. Goldstein, a 10-term incumbent and one of the state's most popular politicians, has made a radio ad endorsing Mr. Schmoke. It began airing yesterday.
"Here's a man who has fiscal responsibility and fiscal integrity, and he will continue to serve the best interests of this great port city of Baltimore," Mr. Goldstein said in announcing his endorsement of Mr. Schmoke at the end of the mayor's weekly news briefing.
Mr. Goldstein's endorsement puts the 82-year-old Calvert County resident at odds with former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who is backing the mayor's opponent, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, in Tuesday's closely contested Democratic primary.
Mr. Goldstein, the longest-serving statewide officeholder in Maryland history, demurred when asked to discuss his difference of opinion with Mr. Schaefer, a former four-term Baltimore mayor.
"I never argue with a governor in public," he said. "I respect him. He respects me."
Cheryl Benton, Mrs. Clarke's chief political strategist, shrugged off the Goldstein endorsement.
"That's fine for Kurt Schmoke," she said.
The campaign -- in which a voter survey has found Mrs. Clarke trailing Mr. Schmoke by 6 percentage points -- has been dominated by the council president's criticism of the city's high crime rate and loss of jobs.
Mr. Schmoke has countered by saying he has made progress in combating crime and encouraging economic development, and that he has provided Baltimore with sound financial leadership.
During Mr. Schmoke's eight-year tenure, the city has maintained an A-1 bond rating from Moody's Investors Service and an A rating from Standard & Poor's Ratings Group. Baltimore's ratings are considered "upper-medium" grade and are higher than those of most other East Coast cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
A city's bond ratings are important not only as a measure of financial strength, but also because they lower the cost of borrowing money. The higher the bond rating, the less the risk to investors and the lower the interest that must be paid. The difference of one grade in rating can mean millions of dollars in interest payments.
Joining Mr. Goldstein at yesterday's news briefing were Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and San Jose Mayor Sue Hammer, who described Mr. Schmoke as a leader among mayors nationwide.
"It would be an astounding loss for urban America if Kurt Schmoke's leadership were not a part of the urban landscape," Mr. Campbell said.