Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, after previously swearing off a run for the city’s top job, said Tuesday that he is considering jumping into the race.
Young, the former City Council president who became mayor when Catherine Pugh resigned May 2 amid scandal, said people are encouraging him to run based on his performance in office thus far.
“If I want to change my mind and run for mayor, that’s an option I have,” the Democrat said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun at City Hall. “I’m considering all options. I’m leaving my options open. I’ll leave it at that.”
In early May, Young said he planned to be mayor only until the 2020 election, in which he would run for his former job as council president. But Tuesday, Young said a turning point in his thinking about the election next year came when the council voted to elevate Democratic Councilman Brandon Scott to replace Young as council president.
Young said he and his council vice president, Democrat Sharon Middleton, had a deal in which Young would serve out the rest of Pugh’s term as mayor and Middleton would serve as council president — then each would run for their former post.
But Scott defeated Middleton in a May 6 vote by council members for their next leader.
“Sharon and I had an agreement. And then this thing with Brandon, it threw off the plan,” Young said.
“I don’t know what my plan is right now,” he added. "I really don’t.”
He said he’s been talking to potential donors without specifying which office he’s pursuing.
“Have I talked to people about fundraising? I’ve always talked to people about fundraising about my run for council president,” Young said. “If I feel like I want to run for mayor, that’s my option.”
Young said he thinks his team has done well facing tough challenges in the city.
“Right now, I’m focusing on trying to reduce violent crime, cleaning up the city, and making sure we get the spyware under control,” Young said. The city’s computer systems were damaged in a ransomware attack discovered May 7.
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“Everything that could have possibly went bad when I became mayor has happened," Young said. "I’ve stood up to the challenge and my team and I have weathered the storm and we’ve moved the city forward.”
Young said he wanted to talk to the matter over with his wife, Darlene, before deciding.
“People are asking me to reconsider. I haven’t talked to my wife yet,” Young said. “People say, ‘Are you considering?’ I say, ‘I just need to raise money like any other candidate would do.’ ”
With about $600,000 in his campaign account at the time of the most recent campaign finance report filing deadline in January, Young has more money than other potential candidates for the Democratic nomination. They include: Scott, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous, state Sen. Bill Ferguson, and former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith. Former state Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah has already said he will seek the party’s nomination, and six other Democratic candidates have filed to run.
Scott said Tuesday night that many people are encouraging him to run for mayor, and that he won’t let any other elected official’s decision influence him.
“No one else’s decision will have an impact on mine,” Scott said. “Everywhere I go in Baltimore, people ask me to run for mayor. I am focused on making sure the council is working at a high level addressing violent crime and other important issues. We need transformational leadership to move Baltimore forward.”
The filing deadline is Jan. 24 and the primary in the heavily Democratic city is April 28.