Senate candidate stabbed in dispute at his apartment


U.S. Senate candidate A. Robert Kaufman, a socialist and perennial office seeker, was reported in critical condition last night after being stabbed during an argument with another man at his West Baltimore apartment building, city police said.

Police would not describe the argument leading up to the stabbing about 4 p.m., but a police source and other tenants said the dispute was with a tenant over rent in the three-story building in the 2000 block of N. Hilton St.

Kaufman, 74, was stabbed several times in the head and neck, police said. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Police said they were searching last night for a tenant of Kaufman's building.

About nine people live there, including Kaufman on the second floor, tenants said. They believed that Kaufman was stabbed in his apartment by a first-floor resident.

"They were behind on rent, and he was bearing with them, giving them leniency," said Ken Griffin Sr., 40, who also lives on the first floor.

Kaufman has been arrested during his four decades of political activism, and also been a victim of neighborhood crime. Sixteen years ago, Kaufman told police he was tied up in his apartment during a robbery by an otherwise gentlemanly gunman who told him, "You made some people mad."

In politics, Kaufman has tilted at windmills in numerous campaigns for Senate, mayor, City Council, Congress and even president -- with little expectation of winning, but getting a forum to promote his views.

"He is an iconoclastic, socialist, gadfly, perennial candidate, one of the diverse cacophony of voices in city politics," Herbert C. Smith, a political science professor at McDaniel College, said last night. "He enriches dialogue rather than detracts."

Kaufman has been arrested during his many demonstrations --jailed on charges that are quickly dropped.

Kaufman was gearing up his long-shot Democratic primary campaign for the U.S. Senate seat of Paul S. Sarbanes.

He was stabbed 3 1/2 hours before an announced "joint business meeting" in his apartment of two groups he largely oversees: the Put Socialism on the Ballot Committee supporting his Senate campaign, and the City Wide Coalition.

Police closed off the building at the corner of Hilton Street and Bloomingdale Road as investigators waited for a search warrant to go inside.

Barred from entering, Kaufman's tenants talked about their landlord as they waited outside.

Griffin, who has known Kaufman for 15 years, said he is beloved in the neighborhood. "If you were short on rent, he'd give you more days, let you work it off on a project."

In the disclosure filing for his 2003 mayoral campaign, Kaufman, a staunch socialist, disclosed that he owned two apartment buildings in West Baltimore. Remarking on that capitalist aspect of his life, Kaufman told a reporter, "I do a fantastically ... poor job of collecting rents and debts."

"It's just a sad situation," Griffin said, "that someone who has fought so hard and given so much to the neighborhood was hurt this way."

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