The 45th legislative District in Northeast Baltimore city hasn’t seen a change in state Senate representation since 1995. Del. Cory McCray (D), who represents that same financially struggling district in the House, feels it’s time for a new set of eyes.
McCray, a Baltimore native, believes the city needs new leadership, and he’s not alone. On Saturday, McCray announced his candidacy for state Senate in the upcoming 2018 election, challenging the Senate’s President pro tem, six-term Sen. Nathaniel McFadden (D), who has represented the district since 1995.
McCray’s bid to topple McFadden in the June Democratic primary comes as three other veteran Baltimore city lawmakers are facing younger challengers next year: Del. Antonio Hayes (D), a close McCray ally, is taking on appointed Sen. Barbara Robinson (D), who previously served in the House; Del. Mary Washington (D) announced earlier this month that she is running against Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D), the chairwoman of the Senate Education, Health and Environment Committee. And Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D), whose Baltimore County-based district takes in a sliver of the city, is facing a challenge from Aletheia McCaskill, a leader of the Service Employees International Union.
These challengers are stepping forward in the wake of a handful of younger Democrats being elected to the Baltimore City Council last year; many were on hand to hear McCray’s announcement outside his old high school on Saturday.
According to McCray’s newly launched campaign website and a 2 1/2-minute video designed to introduce himself to voters, McCray grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Fairmount-Harford High School. Because he was uninterested in attending college, McCray’s mother found him an apprenticeship program and he became an electrician by trade at age 19. Before being elected to the House of Delegates in 2014, McCray became a small-business owner and worked on campaigns for his local union, planting his roots in the district he now wants to represent in the Senate.
McCray, 34, believes his work in the community qualifies him to represent the people of the 45th district. “People take more ownership when they are servicing the community they’ve lived in,” says the freshman delegate.
McFadden, 71, has a strong advantage over McCray when it comes to seniority and experience in the Senate; he has served as President pro tem — constitutionally, the No. 2 position in the chamber — since 2007 and previously spent five years on the City Council.
McFadden, a former educator, is well known in the community. But he has remained mum on the McCray challenge so far and did not respond to repeated messages from Maryland Matters last week. The political operation of Senate President Mike Miller (D) will vigorously defend him against the McCray challenge.
McCray believes his legislative record in the mere three years he’s served in the House of Delegates shows that he wastes no time when it comes to pushing change in his community. Since his election in 2014, he’s successfully helped pass a bill that restores voting rights to convicted felons while serving probation. He’s sponsored legislation that advocates for apprenticeship programs in Baltimore, believing they provide opportunity to educate and empower workers without the requirement of a college degree.
Although McFadden serves on the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee, McCray charges that the incumbent has not done enough to bring resources into the district’s schools and other institutions.
When asked what differentiates him from McFadden, McCray replied, “Look at the voting record. We represent one of the most impoverished regions of Baltimore. Our votes should reflect that.”