Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila A. Dixon is expected Thursday to endorse J.D. Merrill, a candidate for Maryland Senate from West Baltimore’s 41st District.
Merrill campaign mailers notifying voters of Dixon’s backing and of three earlier endorsements began landing in mailboxes of likely 41st District Democratic primary voters this week.
In addition to Dixon, the mailer includes nods from DeRay Mckesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and onetime mayoral candidate; Baltimore City Councilman Brandon M. Scott, from the East Side’s 2nd District and a candidate for lieutenant governor; and state Sen. William C. Ferguson IV, of South Baltimore’s 46th District.
“I think any of us who have been in Baltimore – Mayor Dixon and the other elected leaders — are concerned about the direction the city’s going,” he said. “They’re looking to the next generation of leaders to turn the city around, and I think that’s what their support is a reflection of.”
Merrill is running against state Sen. Jill P. Carter, who was named in April by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) to complete the last months of the term of disgraced lawmaker Nathaniel T. Oaks, who resigned his Senate seat March 29, two hours before pleading guilty to two federal felonies in a political corruption case.
Efforts to have Oaks’s name removed from the 41st District ballot failed earlier this year, when the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled twice against voters who wanted the State Board of Elections to reprint the ballots without his name.
As a result, Oaks’s name will appear on the 41st District ballot, along with those of Carter and Merrill, as a candidate for state Senate. His name also will appear in a second spot, with 23 other candidates, for the seven-member 41st District Democratic State Central Committee.
Supporters of Carter, a former member of the House of Delegates, also wanted to see Oaks’s name removed from the ballot because he is so well known in the community, and they fear that it will draw votes away from her, to the advantage of Merrill.
Merrill, 27 a political newcomer, is a former Baltimore public-school teacher and son-in-law of former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D).
Carter, 54, a lawyer who is the daughter of civil rights leader Walter P. Carter, was elected to the House of Delegates four times, the last time in 2014. She resigned her seat early, in January 2017, to head the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement for the newly elected Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh (D).
Carter resigned that post last month because she said she recently learned that it would be illegal for her to remain head of the office while also a state senator. She said was taking a leave of absence as a city employee until after the primary election.
She filed as a candidate for Oaks’s seat Feb. 27, the filing deadline for the primary, after having been gone from the General Assembly 14 months.