Baltimore mayoral candidates are expected to square off virtually ahead of early voting during a forum hosted by the city’s NAACP branch and the Afro newspaper.
Democratic nominee Brandon Scott, Republican nominee Shannon Wright and independent candidate Bob Wallace will participate in the Oct. 22 event. It will be streamed live on the NAACP’s Facebook page at 7 p.m.
“Our goal in this is to make sure voters go to the polls informed, that they know the totality of their options,” said NAACP Vice President Joshua Harris.
Scott, the City Council president, is the heavy favorite in the Nov. 3 election. Deep-blue Baltimore has only elected Democrats for nearly 60 years.
The Rev. Frances “Toni” Murphy Draper, publisher of the Afro, acknowledged that Baltimore usually has its “general [election] during our primary.” Still, she said she hopes the forum allows all three to make their cases.
“I hope the voters will get a clearer picture of where each candidate stands,” Draper said.
It’s been more difficult this year for mayoral candidates to reach voters because of restrictions imposed to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Both Scott and Wallace are airing television ads; Wright has less than $10,000 in her campaign bank account.
More than 37,000 city residents have already mailed in their ballots, according to the latest available data from the state elections board. Nearly 90% of those returned ballots came from Democrats.
While a large segment of the electorate is expected to vote by mail this year, mayoral candidates still have time to convince voters. Early voting begins Oct. 26 and will run up until Nov. 3′s Election Day.
In the primary election, many residents waited until the last minute to postmark their ballots or deposit them in one of the elections board drop boxes placed around the city.
Wright and Wallace also planned to debate Tuesday night in a forum to be streamed on WBFF-TV’s website, but Scott was not expected to attend. Democratic candidates during the primary frequently declined to participate in debates hosted by the Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned station.