Eleven of 14 Republican candidates for city office showed up to let voters know there still is an election Nov. 7 -- even though the Democratic nominees from last month's primary are the favorites to win.
"If people are unhappy with what happened in the primary they have another chance," said city Republican Party Chairman David Blumberg.
In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 9 to 1, the Republicans have raised little money for their campaigns and complain that the media ignores them. Mayoral candidate Victor Clark Jr., for example, said he's raised only $500, compared with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's $1.3 million campaign treasury.
The candidates gathered yesterday without bumper stickers, glossy campaign signs or bus loads of adoring fans. They drew only eight supporters and a few curious onlookers from City Hall.
But they did bring a three-page mission statement, drawn up by the Better Baltimore Task Force -- a group of 19 Maryland Republicans, including Ellen Sauerbrey, who lost a bid for governor last year. The goals in the mission statement are no different from the hopes of city Democratic candidates. The Republicans want better schools, safer streets, fewer taxes and better jobs with better pay.
But the Republican platform departs from most Democratic agendas in its call for smaller, single-member councilmanic districts, a two-term limit to office and an elected member to the Board of Education from each councilmanic district.
The group also wants to reduce the city property tax rate from $5.85 to $4.50 per $100 of assessed value by the year 2000.
The mission statement also proposes more community involvement in government by establishing "Neighborhood Community Associations" that would advise the mayor, the Board of Estimates and the City Council. The groups also would hold a "Congress of Neighborhoods" to make recommendations for the city administration's agenda.
"The Baltimore City Republicans have a plan. The Democrats don't have a plan. It's business as usual. It's time for a change," DeWayne Shelton -- who is running for City Council in the 2nd District -- told the small gathering.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Blumberg said the mission statement was drawn up after the results of the last gubernatorial election showed that Mrs. Sauerbrey ran poorly in the city.
"We needed to put forth a specific agenda, a reality check," he said, noting "we haven't had a Republican on the City Council since 1939. The last mayor was elected in 1963."
He said Republican leaders wanted to write the platform so that all the candidates would be "singing from the same page."
"The election isn't over," J. Gary Lee, chairman of the Better Baltimore Task Force, said yesterday. "It would be a sin to ignore the two-party system."