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Dueling Endorsements Illustrate Different Strategies in Mayoral Primary

Now that the special congressional election has been dispensed with and the state’s June 2 primary less than four weeks away, the campaign for mayor of Baltimore and other city offices is intensifying.

With half a dozen leading contenders in a crowded Democratic primary field and no in-person campaigning possible, the candidates for mayor are scrambling to distinguish themselves. Two approaches were on vivid display Tuesday, as two of the top-tier candidates released lists of prominent supporters.

City Council President Brandon M. Scott released a more traditional list, along with an accompanying letter. His campaign described the signers as “a diverse coalition of 87 community leaders, public health professionals, public safety leaders, and small business owners.”

In a letter addressed to “Dear Baltimore,” to be widely distributed Wednesday, the community leaders write, “Now, more than ever, our city needs an accountable mayor who is prepared to lead and committed to making Baltimore a safer, more equitable place. As people who care deeply about the future of this city, we write to express our strong support for Brandon M. Scott for Mayor. We know Brandon to be an effective, community-based leader. He is unafraid to develop well-rounded strategies to our most pressing issues, even in the most challenging of times.”

The letter goes on to describe Scott’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic, his battle to stem gun violence, his commitment to improve public education, and his desire to rid the city of inequality.

“Brandon knows our neighborhoods and is genuinely motivated to serve,” the leaders wrote. “He has a track record of leading the way when our city has needed vision and direction the most. Brandon is the only person to rebuild public trust and bring our city together.”

The community coalition includes “peacemaker” Erricka Bridgeford, Latin Opinion publisher Erick A. Oribio, former city solicitor Ralph Tyler and progressive activist Charly Carter.

Last week, Scott announced that he is leading the Forward Slate, a citywide campaign team that includes Councilwoman Shannon Sneed for City Council president, and eight candidates for City Council. Scott is also boasting endorsements from several unions.

Meanwhile, another Democratic contender for mayor, former U.S. Treasury Department official Mary Miller, announced endorsements Tuesday from more than two dozen of her former Obama administration colleagues — but whether their names carry any weight in the city is an open question. The list is headed by former Treasury secretary Jack Lew and includes Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC, Jeffrey Zients, former director of the National Economic Council, former U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios, and former deputy Treasury secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin.

“Mary worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people, leading the U.S. Treasury department’s efforts to tackle some of the most difficult challenges facing our country,” Lew said in a statement. “From the debt limit debates and the intricacies of debt management to financial reform and housing finance, and the financial challenges facing our cities and states, Mary has always been committed to strengthening our country, improving our financial system and lifting obstacles for working Americans.”

The other leading Democrats in the mayoral primary are former mayor Sheila Dixon, former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith, former assistant attorney general Thiru Vignarajah, and Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young.

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Dueling Endorsements Illustrate Different Strategies in Mayoral Primary