With Primary Looming, Businessman Enters Race for Mayor of Baltimore as an Independent

Baltimore City businessman Bob Wallace announced he's running in the 2020 mayoral race as an independent candidate. Photo courtesy of Nevins & Associates

With ballots for the Baltimore City June primary election due in less than two weeks, another candidate has thrown his hat into the ring: Baltimore businessman Robert L. Wallace his independent candidacy for mayor at a Zoom news conference Wednesday morning. 

This brings the city’s mayoral candidate count up to 32 — though it will be winnowed considerably once the primary ballots are counted.

“Let me say that, perhaps contrary to popular belief, the election for mayor of Baltimore we feel strongly will not be over … the first Tuesday evening in June, it’ll actually just be beginning at that time,” said David Nevins, president and CEO of the public relations firm running Wallace’s campaign. “And Bob’s signature collection process to become an independent candidate is well underway.”

Wallace is currently pursuing the 4,000 signatures from Baltimore City residents required to allow him to run as an independent candidate. 

A former Republican, Wallace said that he has chosen to run with no party affiliation because he wants to bring the best ideas to the table. 

“It has been said that if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got,” Wallace said. “And, in many ways, that sounds like politics in Baltimore today.”

Wallace said that it’s time for the city to stop electing “career politicians” with the expectation that things will be different than what the city has seen in the last few years: “runaway crime,” political corruption, a crumbling school system and job loss.

“Yes, we are getting much of what we’ve always got,” he explained. “But I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had enough of this and this madness has to stop.”

Wallace was raised in Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood to parents who struggled to make ends meet. He attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute where he said he saw the “tale of two cities”: one defined by poverty; the other, prosperity. 

Wallace said he made it his mission to cross the bridge, which he did.

Wallace studied mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania before pursuing a master’s degree at Dartmouth College’s Amos Tuck School of Business.

A businessman by trade, he worked for IBM, Proctor & Gamble and DuPont before going on to found his own ventures in the city, including tech and energy companies like BITHGROUP Technologies, Inc.

As mayor, Wallace’s priority would be to level the playing field, effectively combining these “two cities.” He said he would accomplish this by acting as “mayor-prenuer” —  running Baltimore as a business — disrupting and transforming the political status quo and adapting the city to attract burgeoning industries in an effort to push the economy forward. If elected, he said the first 100 days of his administration would prioritize public safety, education and job creation.

Wallace’s family is no stranger to politics. His cousin, the late Wayne K. Curry, served two terms as the Prince George’s County Executive beginning in the mid-1990s.

Wallace is a former member of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and has sat on a number of advisory boards, including the Governor’s Advanced Technology Commission, the Minority Business Taskforce and the Baltimore Mayor’s Coalition of Supplier Diversity and Inclusion. 

He currently lives in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore.

Wallace becomes the second high-profile non-affiliated candidate to enter the race for mayor. Real estate developer Kahan S. Dhillon Jr. is also planning to run.

The winner of the Democratic primary will be heavily favored in the November general election. A poll released Wednesday morning showed the primary has become a three-way race, with former mayor Sheila Dixon and former U.S. Treasury Department official Mary Miller each taking 18%, and City Council President Brandon M. Scott netting 15%.

The poll of 400 likely Democratic primary voters, taken May 11-19 by OpinionWorks of Annapolis for The Baltimore Sun, WYPR 88.1 FM and the University of Baltimore’s College and Public Affairs and Schaefer Center for Public Policy, had a 4.9-point margin of error.

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Hannah Gaskill
Hannah Gaskill received her master’s of journalism degree in December 2019 from the University of Maryland. She previously worked on the print layout design team at The Diamondback, reported on criminal justice in Maryland for Capital News Service and served as a production assistant for The Confluence — the daily news magazine on 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR member station. Gaskill has had bylines in The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune, among other publications.Before pursuing journalism, she received her bachelor’s of fine art degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2016. She grew up in Ocean City.