By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, s[email protected]
Three incumbent Baltimore City Senators, including two of the most powerful in the Senate, were defeated in the Democratic primary June 26, signaling for many a seismic shift in the landscape of Baltimore politics in Annapolis.
Baltimore City Del. Cory McCray, who was elected to the House in 2014, soundly defeated Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, President Pro Tem of the Senate, in what was often a contentious battle (which on a few occasions took place on the pages of the AFRO) for East Baltimore’s 45th District (see McCray-McFadden story on this page).
Sen. Barbara Robinson, representing West Baltimore’s 40th District, was defeated by more than 30 percentage points by Del. Antonio Hayes in the most lopsided of these three Senate races. Hayes, who was also elected to the House in 2014, prevailed 65.5% to 34.5% over Robinson.
But, perhaps the most costly race in terms of the clout of the Baltimore City delegation in Annapolis was the closest contest by far. With 53 of 55 precincts reporting as of press time, Sen. Joan Carter Conway was trailing Del. Mary Washington by only 529 votes in East Baltimore’s 43rd District (Washington has not claimed victory, yet). Conway, who first entered the Senate in 1997, is the powerful chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. She is also arguably the most vigorous proponent of Maryland’s HBCU’s, especially Morgan State University, which is in her district.
“…The people have a right to do what they did, they voted, thank goodness they voted…but the consequences of the two major races of Carter (Conway) and McFadden,” said Larry Young, former state senator and host of the Larry Young Morning Show WOLB Talk 1010. “My concern is I know Mike Miller. “How will he take the talent we send forth [McCray, Washington and Hayes] and how is he going to work with them to leverage some clout for our community? It’s going to be extremely difficult because of how the Senate structure, which is based on seniority,” Young added during an on air conversation June 27, the morning after the primary.
Notwithstanding the political machinations to take place in Annapolis in January after the start of the 2019 session (and prior to it), many simply see the Democratic primary results as a wholesale rejection of political business as usual in Baltimore.
Sen. Jill Carter, who retained the Senate seat she was appointed to in West Baltimore’s 41st District, after Nathaniel Oaks resigned from office amidst corruption charges, may be the most demonstrative symbol of anti-O’Malley sentiments and a rejection of certain powerful elements within the Democratic establishment.
Carter, who represented the 41st in the House from 2003 to 2017, handily defeated J.D. Merrill, a former school teacher and O’Malley’s son-in-law, by more than 15 percentage points, 54.8% to 38.8%.
Ultimately, Carter’s win, along with the victories of McCray, Hayes and Washington may indicate not only a rebuke of Baltimore City’s Democratic establishment, but perhaps a significant step towards a more progressive Baltimore City delegation in Annapolis.
Ryan Dorsey, Baltimore City Councilman for the Third District tweeted, “The most progressive member of the Maryland General Assembly won more votes than ANY other…candidate in the state. Remember this.”