Meet Some of the People in Brandon Scott’s Inner Circle

Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D). City Council photo

Baltimore City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D) — now likely to be the city’s next mayor, based on unofficial Democratic primary results — launched his political career nine years ago, when he was just 27 years old.

While he’s known as a collegial and collaborative colleague, Scott in many ways has charted his own course, politically and on the policy front, since first being elected to the City Council in 2011. He came up from a struggling, violent neighborhood, and he’s never had a wide circle of advisers.

But victory has a thousand fathers, as the old saying attributed to John F. Kennedy goes, and now several people can claim some measure of credit for Scott’s win. Some provided strategy and advice, others helped with fundraising or policy proposals or community outreach or voter turnout — or some combination. And others will stick around as part of the new mayor’s informal kitchen cabinet.

Most are based in Baltimore, of course. But it should be noted that Scott is already a major player in the National League of Cities, and has contacts around the country. A few weeks before the mayoral primary, he released a list of city officials from coast to coast who were supporting his bid. And, like many candidates for mayor this year, he used some high-powered national political consultants.

It’s way too early to discuss what kind of team Scott will put together at City Hall — and remember, he’s only been Council president for 13 months, so he hasn’t been on the citywide stage all that long. Scott has suggested that city government needs a professional city manager. Will he attempt to hire one once he becomes mayor?

Before any of these questions can be answered, here’s a look at some of the people who are likely to remain part of Scott’s inner circle — and others who helped him to victory:

State Sen. Cory V. McCray (D): A fellow millennial from humble beginnings, whose district overlaps with part of Scott’s old Council district, McCray provided grass-roots organizing and other political muscle and will be an invaluable ally in Annapolis as the only Baltimorean on the Budget and Taxation Committee.

Alicia Wilson. Johns Hopkins University photo

Alicia Wilson: A fellow Merganthaler Vocational-Technical High School grad (she was valedictorian), Wilson is the vice president for economic development at Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System and formerly was an executive at the Port Covington development team. A conduit to the city’s development community for Scott and a policy adviser as well. And with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, it’s good to have ties to the No. 1 hospital in the state.

Jim Shea

Jim Shea: The chairman emeritus of Venable LLP was chairman of the Brandon Scott for Mayor strategy committee, who hosted many meetings at the firm’s Inner Harbor office. When Shea tapped Scott to be his running mate during his longshot bid for governor in 2018, there seemed to be an unspoken agreement between the two men: By joining Shea’s ticket, Scott was elevating his profile, and in the likely event that the two were not victorious, Shea was going to help Scott run for mayor by raising money and raising Scott’s profile among downtown business leaders.

Marvin James: Scott’s campaign manager, who previously ran Ivan Bates’ unsuccessful campaign for Baltimore City state’s attorney, has close ties to several of the city’s Black church leaders.

Colleen Martin-Lauer: The state’s top Democratic fundraiser also served as the campaign’s de facto general consultant and will likely remain an adviser throughout Scott’s tenure.

Kim Washington: Former Baltimore housing official who held a variety of jobs with Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) when Blake was mayor and City Council president. Knows the City Council and neighborhood leaders.

Rick Binetti: Political and legislative director for the Baltimore Washington Laborers’ District Council and an old O’Malley hand, one of several labor leaders who embraced Scott’s campaign.

Theo C. Rogers: Developer who was an early and influential supporter.

Ryan O’Doherty: Another former Rawlings-Blake aide who goes way back with Scott. His current gig, as director of external affairs and communications at Mercy Medical Center, is another plus for Scott as he tries to navigate the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The City Hall team: Includes Michael Huber, the chief of staff in Scott’s Council president office, who has worked policy and economic development issues, and Stefanie Mavronis, the communications director and a progressive policy wonk.

The national consultants: A group that includes David Dixon, the national media consultant who sculpted Scott’s ads; Craig Varoga, a veteran party operative who learned at the feet of former U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.); and Jefrey Pollock, the pollster.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.