The retirement of Del. Clarence Davis in Northeast Baltimore's 45th District has attracted a large field of political newcomers.
Still, the other candidates are betting the senator's approval won't be enough to cinch a win for Cheryl D. Glenn, a former lobbyist and member of the city Democratic Central Committee.
This summer, McFadden was briefly entangled in the embezzlement trial of a former campaign treasurer for a city councilwoman who is one of his political allies. And earlier this year, he was criticized for trying to oust two reform-minded members of the state-controlled city liquor board, a move that was blocked by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
"The community needs an alternative to those folks," said Ronald M. Owens-Bey, 57, a populist candidate in the Nov. 7 general election, referring to McFadden and the Eastside Democratic Organization, a political group that is headed by McFadden and also is backing Glenn.
The newcomers say they also believe they can beat long-serving incumbents Dels. Hattie N. Harrison and Talmadge Branch.
"It is time for a change in our district," said Aaron Keith Wilkes, 38, a city courts employee who is running in the Democratic primary Sept. 12. "The incumbents have very little to show for their years in office."
Harrison, who after 33 years in the House is the longest-serving African-American in the history of the General Assembly, says that she knows what's best for her district, which includes the neighborhoods of Oliver, Belair-Edison, Frankford and Cedonia.
She said that if she's re-elected, she would continue to fight for funds to combat crime and rebuild blighted blocks. "East Baltimore needs a Marshall Plan," said Harrison, 78, referring to a U.S.-backed plan to rebuild war-torn Europe after World War II.
Branch, 50, is vice chairman of the appropriations committee and heads a legislative work group that focuses on child welfare. He has been a critic of the foster care system and an advocate for more social workers.
"I'm still in the mode of making sure that we do something to add protection for children," he said.
Branch and Harrison have formed an alliance with Glenn.
"We are running on what we call the Unity Ticket," said Glenn, 55, who is the Maryland political director for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters. Glenn said she has lobbied legislators in Annapolis on behalf of the labor group in the past but changed jobs during the last session to avoid conflict. She said she is currently employed as a consultant for the group.
Glenn says her experience in the late 1980s helping to organize the City Union of Baltimore, Local 800, AFT, AFL-CIO, which represents thousands of city employees, and her job as a political consultant make her an ideal candidate.
"It's been a natural evolution," she said.
Completing the field of candidates hoping to replace Davis are Democrats Robert R. Stokes, Kevin A. Slayton and Kevin W. Parson.
Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful, but according to state records, Slayton was a registered lobbyist in Annapolis as recently as the spring.
In the Senate race, McFadden will face Greg Truitt in the primary. Truitt did not return repeated telephone calls to his office.
Leonard J. Wolff, 55, a Republican and devout Roman Catholic, will represent his party in the general election. He is the former owner of Christ the King bookstore.
"My focus is to remind everybody that we need goodness down in Annapolis instead of people who want to concentrate on their own political power," Wolff said.
McFadden, 60, head of the city's Senate delegation, defended his record, saying he believes he does a "pretty good job" representing the district.
He recently underwent back surgery for a herniated disk and has been forced to cut back on campaigning. He said he has been on leave from his job as a facilitator for the city school system for more than a year because of medical problems.
McFadden's back trouble also prevented him from participating in the theft and embezzlement trial of the former campaign treasurer of City Councilwoman Paula Johnson Branch.
Charges were dismissed against the treasurer, Momoh Conteh, after Branch said that she might have approved a $2,000 cash transfer from her campaign to McFadden's, and that the money might not have been stolen. .