Natasha Guynes, who has made her personal struggles a key component of her Democratic primary campaign for a Baltimore City Council seat, is bringing in former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) to headline a virtual fundraiser for her this week.
Kennedy, son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), has been one of the most open politicians in American history when it comes to discussing his battles with substance abuse and mental illness.
Kennedy, 52, has been a full-time mental health advocate since leaving Congress in early 2011. He admits abusing cocaine as a teenager and having an ongoing substance abuse problem during his college years. In 2006, while a member of Congress, he sought treatment for addiction to Oxycontin after crashing into his car into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol.
Guynes, one of several Democrats seeking an open Council seat in South Baltimore’s 10th District, where 24-year veteran Councilman Edward C. Reisinger (D) is retiring, has sought to highlight her personal story on the campaign trail.
“I’m one of the only politicians who has been totally open about my past — prostitution, homelessness, drug addiction,” Guynes said in an interview.
After becoming sober at the age of 21, Guynes, who is now 39, went to work on Capitol Hill. She is the founder and director of HER Resiliency Center, a nonprofit agency in Baltimore that works with young women at risk.
Guynes said her campaign fundraiser has connections to Kennedy’s orbit and approached the former congressman about helping her campaign. Guynes said that when she eventually connected with Kennedy on the phone, he told her, “I know who you are and your work.”
The fundraiser is being held on Zoom at midday Tuesday and costs a minimum of $100 to participate. Details are available on the Guynes for City Council Facebook page.
The frontrunner in the 10th District primary race appears to be Phylicia Porter, a public health advocate who has a raft of endorsements from elected officials and prominent activists, including Reisinger. City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D), a candidate for mayor, has put Porter on his slate.
Guynes and another candidate for mayor, former mayor Sheila Dixon (D), have endorsed one another.