A LINK CONNECTING BALTIMORE to the Old South is its continued shunning of Abe Lincoln's Republican Party. In recent years, though, the local GOP's inability to field worthy candidates has been as much of the problem as tradition.
The Republicans this time have some of the best candidates they have ever offered to Baltimore voters. But, as The Sun makes its endorsements for the Nov. 7 general election, it is obvious that the GOP still has a long way to go to become a true competitor in deciding the future direction of this city.
The Sun endorses the re-election of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. The mayor has been a good fiscal steward during a period when many big cities in America have flirted with financial disaster. During a third term, it is hoped that Mr. Schmoke can meet other expectations and make all Baltimoreans proud of their city.
For City Council president, The Sun endorses Lawrence A Bell III. His past willingness to bring before the public important issues that other council members have wanted to deal with behind closed doors has been laudable.
Joan M. Pratt should be the next comptroller. The challenge for her is to learn the ropes quickly and not be intimidated by the mayor or anyone else who would steer her to a spending decision that wouldn't be best for Baltimore.
The above are all Democrats but in the Second Council District, The Sun endorses Charlie Baskerville Jr., a Republican. Constituents say incumbent Paula Johnson Branch doesn't show up when they need help. Mr. Baskerville, a counselor with the state Department of Human Resources, would show deeper concern than that. With incumbent Anthony J. Ambridge and Robert L. Douglass, the district would be better represented.
In the Sixth District, Joseph Brown would be an attractive candidate regardless of party. A Republican, Mr. Brown knows the district's problems, has good ideas to solve them and the energy to make those solutions happen. The Sun also endorses incumbent Melvin L. Stukes and Edward L. Reisinger, who served briefly on the council when appointed in 1990 to finish the unexpired term of the late William J. Myers.
Our recommendations in the other council races are -- First District: John L. Cain, Lois A. Garey and Nicholas C. D'Adamo Jr. Third District: Martin O'Malley, Robert W. Curran and Joan Carter Conway. Fourth District: Agnes Welch, Sheila Dixon and Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. Fifth District: Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, Stephanie C. Rawlings and Helen Holton.
Also on the ballot will be eight questions allowing the sale of $32 million in bonds to finance various capital improvements in the city. The Sun recommends a "yes" vote on all eight bond questions, including $2.2 million for an Earth Conservation Center for the Baltimore Zoo and $1 million that will be lent to Sinai Hospital.