Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott claimed victory in the city’s hard-fought Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday night.
Scott’s announcement came after several days of ballot counts showed him pulling ahead of former Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon. Scott held 42,528 votes, or 29.4 percent, compared to Dixon’s 40,170, or 27.7 percent, as of a Tuesday evening election update.
The Associated Press and The Baltimore Sun were among the media outlets that declared Scott the victor Tuesday night.
“Our city stands at a crossroads,” Scott said in a statement “We will only move forward as a city united. It will take all of us to build a city that is safe, equitable & accountable. As a son of Baltimore, I could not be more honored to lead our great city in this critical moment and carry the work forward.”
Although Scott has declared victory, the election results aren’t final yet. The primary is Maryland’s first conducted largely by mail, and ballots have been trickling in throughout the week.
Dixon had not made a statement as of late Tuesday night and her campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
More than 155,000 ballots had been received by the local board of elections as of Tuesday morning, Baltimore City Elections Director Armstead B.C. Jones Sr. told Maryland Matters in an email. While the election results won’t be finalized until Friday, that number is already higher than the total turnout during the 2016 primary election in Baltimore.
Scott previously lauded Baltimore residents for getting out the vote despite a global pandemic and social unrest over police brutality and systemic racism.
“People came out to vote in any way that they could,” Scott said in an interview, “overcoming all of the barriers that were put in front of them.”
The election has been criticized by candidates and political leaders from across the aisle for glitches and mishaps, like ballots being delivered late or never arriving for some residents. Although some have called on Maryland election leadership to step down, election officials have pointed out how little time they had to prepare for an unprecedented election.
Dixon previously said she’s heard a variety of complaints from her supporters about ballots arriving late and a slew of other issues. She also indicated to The Baltimore Sun that she had spoken to her lawyers about various issues, but didn’t disclose specifics.
Scott was considered to be among the most progressive mayoral candidates in a crowded field. He recently asked incumbent Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young to create a task force to look at reprioritizing police spending in the midst of nationwide calls to “defund the police.”
Reforming public safety and police, along with calls for more transparency in city government, have been common refrains during Scott’s campaign.
A Vice President at the Service Employees International Union, Local 32BJ, the nation’s largest property services workers union, congratulated Scott in a statement.
“Brandon Scott will bring a fresh, untainted, authentic and passionate commitment that’s long-overdue and needed now, more than ever in Baltimore,” said Jaime Contreras, a Vice President at the union, which represents essential workers including janitors, security officers and BWI Airport workers, said in the statement. “He has always there (sic) for the men and women who keep Baltimore office buildings safe and clean and he’s supporting the fight to increase wages and access to health care for essential workers at BWI.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also offered Scott congratulations — and help.
“He brings an exciting vision of hope and unity to the great City of Baltimore,” Van Hollen said. “During these challenging times, I am confident that he will unite the City behind an agenda of equal justice and equal opportunity — and deliver real results for every person in every neighborhood.”
As the Democratic nominee, Scott will be the heavy favorite in the November general election, a race that will include Republican Shannon M. Wright and two businessmen running as independent candidates, Robert Wallace and Kahan S. Dhillon Jr.
If he is elected in November, Scott, who is 36, will become the youngest elected mayor in the city’s history. A nine-year veteran of the City Council, he’d also have several allies on the 14-member Council.
Six of the eight Council candidates that Scott’s Forward Baltimore slate endorsed in the primary appear to have won: incumbents Danielle McCray, Ryan Dorsey, Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer and Kristoffer Burnett, along with newcomers James Torrence, Phylicia Porter. Another Scott-endorsed Council candidate, Phillip Westry, was trailing Councilman Robert Stokes by 300 votes in the 12th District, 40.9% to 36.9%.
Depending on the outcome of the 12th District primary, the Council could have five or six new members.
Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.