Sun/UB/WYPR poll on Baltimore City Council president race, presented by Steve Raabe, President, OpinionWorks.
State Del. Nick J. Mosby has carved out a lead in the race to be Baltimore’s next City Council president, though many voters remain undecided about who they want as the city’s No. 2 elected official, a new poll for The Baltimore Sun, the University of Baltimore and WYPR shows.
Mosby, a former city councilman, is favored by 26% of likely Democratic voters polled, while Carl Stokes, who served with him on the council, had 17% support. The two current council members running — Shannon Sneed and Leon Pinkett — trailed at 10% and 4%, respectively.
But nearly four in 10 voters were undecided nearly two months ahead of the April 28 primary.
With Council President Brandon Scott running for mayor, the seat is open and Baltimore is getting the first competitive race for the position in about a decade.
“Right now, it’s Nick Mosby’s race to lose, quite honestly,” said Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks, the Annapolis firm that conducted the poll.
The poll of 400 voters was conducted Feb. 20-29. It has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. The sample selected for the poll, based on historic trends in the Democratic primary electorate, was 67% people age 50 or older, 66% black and 65% female.
Raabe said Mosby benefits from strong name recognition across the city. He unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2016 before being appointed in 2017 to a seat in the House of Delegates and is married to prominent Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. He won a 2018 election to keep his House seat representing parts of central, West and South Baltimore.
Veronica Bynum, 57, told pollsters she planned to support Mosby for council president. In an interview this week, the Edmondson Village resident said she didn’t know much about him, “but I know a lot about his wife.”
“I’m thinking that her husband can’t be too far from her views,” she said.
Crystal Parsley, 39, of Coldstream Homestead Montebello in East Baltimore, said she plans to vote for Mosby because he seems trustworthy and experienced. She also pointed to his wife as a reason to be reassured her about her choice.
“I feel like she’s a good adviser,” Parsley said. “You’ve got to know the person who he’s living with.”
In a 2016 Sun poll on the mayor’s race, a third of voters said they were less likely to vote for Mosby because he is married to the state’s attorney. At the time, Marilyn Mosby’s office was prosecuting six Baltimore police officers for the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in police custody.
Raabe said that dynamic appears to have changed in this race, with Nick Mosby running instead for council president and his wife in the news less frequently.
Stokes is also well known in the city. He’s sought citywide office several times, running unsuccessfully for mayor in 1999, 2011 and 2016. He also ran in 2003 for council president against future mayors Sheila Dixon and Catherine Pugh, finishing third. In addition to previously serving on the City Council representing the 12th District in central and East Baltimore, Stokes is a former Baltimore school board member.
“People know the type of public service that he has done,” said Roger E. Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs.
That’s why 58-year-old Audrey Mack plans to vote for Stokes. “He has experience,” she said.
Sneed — the only woman in the council president race — doesn’t enjoy outsize support among female voters, the poll shows, despite endorsements from groups like Baltimore Women United for Action and the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Political Action Committee.
Pinkett represents the same West Baltimore district that Mosby did during his time on the council.
There are seven Democratic candidates seeking the council president’s office, along with one Republican. The city’s registered Democrats outnumber Republican voters by nearly 10-1, so the Democratic primary is expected to determine the eventual winner.
Raabe said the scramble to become the next City Council president “may suffer a bit from being overshadowed by the mayor’s race.”
Three of the past four mayors were City Council presidents who automatically ascended to the position when the sitting mayor resigned.