The preliminary action of the state’s 2014 June primary for the 45th District of Baltimore City actually took place in February 2013. That’s when Nina Harper, director of the Oliver Community Association was chosen by the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee (out of a field of 10 candidates) to replace Del. Hattie Harrison, the veteran East Baltimore politician who died the month before.
Harper assumed the seat despite what some argue was a dubious selection process by Central Committee members and the committee chairman Scherod Barnes.
Nevertheless, Harper is the newest incumbent along with Talmadge Branch and Cheryl Glenn, who will be running against six democratic challengers: Marques Dent, Cory McCray, Kevin Parsons, Harry Spikes, Robert Stokes Sr. and Aaron Keith Wilkes.
But, perhaps the most compelling contest in the 45th is between the venerable Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, Senate President Pro Tempore, who is being opposed by veteran political operative Julius Henson.
Henson spent a month in jail and was sentenced to four years probation for election law violations connected to his role in the 2010 governor’s race on behalf of Robert Ehrlich’s campaign for use of a robocall that was aimed, some argue at suppressing the Black vote. Henson was actually tried and acquitted of the voter suppression charge, but he was convicted because the political ad lacked an authority line, which is a misdemeanor.
All total, he was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 30 days of home detention, 500 hours of community service and fined $1 million. Circuit Court Judge Emanuel Brown also prohibited Henson from volunteering or working in any political campaigns during his probation.
So, Henson – who has a well-earned reputation as a political street fighter, a title he seems to wear with pride – decided to run for office himself (McFadden’s senate seat), which compelled Brown to sentence Henson to four more months in jail saying he violated his probation. The sentence was suspended pending Henson’s appeal.
University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson told the Washington Post, “I’ve been trying to imagine a more unpardonable sin to the Black community than voter suppression,” Gibson told the Post. “If you’re doing an ad for anyone running against Julius Henson, you wouldn’t need to address anything else.”