Former Baltimore mayor Dixon endorses primary rival Scott as early voting nears

Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott and former Mayor Sheila Dixon pose for a photo following a Jan. 25, 2020, forum.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott and former Mayor Sheila Dixon pose for a photo following a Jan. 25, 2020, forum. (Ulysses Muñoz)

Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who narrowly lost this year’s Democratic primary in a race to regain her seat, is endorsing Brandon Scott to be the city’s next leader.

She said that after considering the field, she determined Scott has the experience to tackle Baltimore’s longstanding problems and rein in violent crime.


“Brandon can make a difference in the city, and voting for him will only help us to be able to move this city forward,” she said in a recorded endorsement video.

The former mayor said in an interview that her public support wasn’t a guarantee just because she and the City Council president are both Democrats. Dixon also met with independent candidate Bob Wallace, a businessman, ahead of her announcement.


“I know him as a business person, but I don’t feel he really understands city government and what it’s going to take,” she said of Wallace. “Do we have time for a learning curve?”

Wallace has campaigned on the idea that being a political outsider is an asset.

Republican nominee Shannon Wright and Working Class Party candidate David Harding are also on the ballot. In deep-blue Baltimore, the Democratic primary has long determined the city’s next mayor.

The June 2 primary was initially too close to call and both Scott and Dixon expressed doubts and frustrations with Maryland’s first attempt at a mostly mail-in election. They were the front-runners in a crowded, competitive field.

Eleven days later, Dixon conceded and offered her congratulations. Scott won by roughly 3,100 votes.

The two politicians represent different generations of city leadership. Dixon, 66, is 30 years Scott’s senior.

“He has some growing to do, but he does have a base,” Dixon said. “He’s worked in the mayor’s office and understands how the agencies function. Right now, that’s what you need.”

Scott was a staffer under then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake before he joined the City Council in 2011. He became council president last year when Bernard C. “Jack” Young moved up to mayor following Catherine Pugh’s resignation. Young unsuccessfully sought the Democratic mayoral nomination in June.

Dixon’s endorsement comes right before Monday’s start of early, in-person voting. More than 78,000 Baltimore residents already have submitted ballots via the mail ahead of Election Day, which is Nov. 3.

This year marked Dixon’s second attempt at a political comeback after being forced from office amid a corruption scandal in 2010. Pugh defeated her in the primary four years ago by fewer than 2,500 votes.

Dixon said she does not plan to not run for mayor again, though she retains a loyal base of support in the city.

“I was going to stay out of it,” Dixon said of her decision to endorse a candidate in the general election. She ultimately decided to speak out because, she said, “if it means I can persuade supporters of mine to get behind my candidate, then I’ve made my contribution.”


T.J. Smith, who won nearly 6% of the vote in the Democratic primary, is working as a paid adviser for the Wallace campaign.

Along with the Dixon announcement, the Scott campaign planned to announce a lengthy endorsement list Saturday of Democratic state leaders. Among them: Senate President Bill Ferguson of Baltimore and state Sen. Mary Washington, who launched a bid for mayor before dropping out to focus on coronavirus recovery efforts in her district.

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