• Spartan Considerations

Go Green (in Baltimore D 12)

It is a little known fact that political consultants love working for candidates from other parties - in certain circumstances.

The first situation involves consultants who are, for whatever reason, politically polyamorous. Examples in this category include Dick Morris and Roger Stone. Both of these paragons of virtue (do i need quotation marks to indicate irony here?) generally worked for GOP campaigns but were willing to be flexible for money, fame/infamy, kicks, the potential for mischief making, personal relationships with the candidate, relevance, and so on.... The former, of course, advised President Clinton's 1996 re-election effort (I am intentionally under-stating his role, just because). The latter, on a pro bono basis, provided counsel to Reverend Al Sharpton's 2004 presidential campaign.

The second scenario generally involves races where the consultant's regularly-affiliated party has effectively zero chance of winning. For example, a Republican pollster working for a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Detroit. The motivation in these cases is not dissimilar to the first situation, but the consultant is generally more loyal to her or his chosen party and looks upon such campaigns as allowable one-offs.

Either way, it provides the operative with the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective.

It is important to acknowledge, before I dive into the topic of today's post, that the present author is merely a civilian regarding the Baltimore City Council's 12th District race. I am an interested observer, on no campaign's payroll.

That said, as a Democrat, I find myself in the usual position of supporting a Green Party candidate for City Council. As much as I love my fellow comrades and understand their perspective regarding our corporate duopoly, I would much rather the Greens work within the Democratic Party...especially in swing states.

Yet, in the present situation, I find Franca Muller Paz (https://www.francaforthepeople.com/) to be the better progressive choice for D12 residents who want an active fighter for their principles representing them on the City Council.

Had I been a resident of D12 in the primary, I would most likely have backed Phillip Westry in light of his progressive bona fides. Incumbent Democratic D12 Council-member Robert Stokes, Sr, seems...ok...but when voters have the alternative of electing an inspirational candidate running on a "people-powered" platform - the choice seems clear.

A quick look at her "Why I'm Running" neatly encapsulates both her vision for the City and the reasons why I support her candidature:

"...our campaign is led by students, organizers, and community leaders. We know how to fight back against corporate interests and win the policies we need to thrive: fully funded schools; ending systemic racism in public safety, housing, and transit; covid-responsive constituent services, and free high-speed community internet. Together, we can be champions for racial and economic justice in Baltimore City."

Can she win? It is a tough road ahead but I believe that the challenge is not impossible, especially in a change election cycle as we are likely to witness nation-wide in November. Moreover, there is an absolute zero risk of D12 electing a Republican to the seat, so this is a golden opportunity for voters in 2012 to elect someone who will work tirelessly "for the many, not the few" to borrow the recent Labour Party slogan.

Turning to a brief electoral history, Robert Stokes is not a deeply entrenched incumbent. In fact, despite being a long-time fixture in Democratic circles, he has been surprisingly vulnerable at the ballot box.

In 2016, running for the open seat. Stokes won the primary by a 328-vote margin over his nearest competitor, Kelly Cross. He garnered slightly over one-third of the vote in that Democratic primary (33.6%). In fact, looking at his vote total (2,600 votes), that same tally running in any of the other district-based Council seats would have meant only a second or third place finish in 10 of the 14 such seats. Turning to the general election, he won with 70.7% of the vote (9,916 votes). That sounds like a decent margin until one realizes that almost all of the other district-based Democrats won with either higher percentages or more votes (with the sole exceptions of Zeke Cohen with 66.8% in D1 and Edward Reisinger with 8,526 votes in D10).

One would expect an incumbent such as Stokes to fare much better in the 2020 primaries, having served almost one full term on the City Council. That was not the case. Other new-comers in 2016 won impressive victories in their 2020 primaries. For example:

- Ryan Dorsey obtained 40.3% of the primary vote in '16, following that up with a 58.4% win in '20 (+ 18.1%).

- Kristerfer Burnett garnered 29.4% of the 2016 primary vote, going on to amass 62.7% in 2020 (+33.3%).

- Zeke Cohen went from a 27.3% plurality to a solid 66.5% majority in 2020 (+39.2%).

Stokes? 33.6% in the 2016 primary to only 40.4% in the 2020 primary (a relatively meager +6.8% pick-up). His vote total (3,180) would have landed him in second or third place in all but one of other district-based City Council seats (D10). His 40.4% - 37.3% win over challenger Phillip Lee Westry was by only 248 votes.

It will take energizing the electorate, turning out new voters, and convincing many Democrats that Muller Paz is the right candidate for the right district at the right time. Having seen what I have seen thus far, I believe. she has the right stuff.

In solidarity.

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