Friday, September 08, 2006

Cardin and Baltimore

The Ben Cardin campaign sent out a press release today highlighting an impressive list of Baltimore officials endorsing the Congressman in his quest for Maryland's US Senate seat. With the exception of one notable Irish name, it reads like a Who's Who of elected officials, including eight of the councilmembers (a majority) and seven members of our delegation down in Annapolis, among others.

If this was about demographics and policy, one would expect these endorsements to head the direction of Cardin's primary opponent Kweisi Mfume. Unlike Cardin, Mfume actually hails from the city. Mfume is also black, as are 65 percent of Baltimoreans. While Cardin has a decent record on urban issues, Mfume's personal and professional experience far exceeds the suburban Congressman.

So why have so many City officials given their endorsements to Cardin? The answer is simple: money. Cardin has decades of legislative experience on Mfume and such an institutional knowledge could translate into a better ability to win earmarks for Baltimore. Our leaders are also being practical. Most observers think that, although Mfume is putting up a realistic fight, Cardin will most likely emerge as the Democratic nominee and, eventually, Maryland's next US Senator. They are likely hedging their bets on the assumption that Cardin will remember the early support when fighting for appropriations in America's upper legislative chamber.

(Mfume also enjoys strong support from City leaders. In addition to the majority of the city's delegation in Annapolis, Rep. Elijah Cummings, who now serves Mfume's former district, City Council President Sheila Dixon and Baltimore political power broker state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden have thrown their weight behind Mfume.)

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