Article15 Mayor Press Conference11

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake checks to see if the assembled reporters were ready for her to begin her press conference last Wednesday where she addressed speculation she will run for the U.S. Senate soon to be vacated by Barbara Mikulski. (AFRO Photo/Roberto Alejandro)

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said this week that she is still considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who announced she will retire from Congress when her term expires in 2017.

Rawlings-Blake said she is considering a run, but that she first has to decide whether she can do more for Baltimore as mayor, or as part of a legislative body known mostly for its capacity for gridlock.

“While I’m flattered by the mention, I know that the speculation about me as a possible successor says a lot more about the progress that we’ve been seeing in Baltimore City over the past few years, than it does about me personally,” the mayor said at her weekly press conference March 4.

Reading from what appeared to be a statement prepared in anticipation of being asked about the Senate seat, the mayor spelled out the progress of the city since she took over from “the previous administration”—of Sheila Dixon, whom the mayor avoided referring to by name when asked which administration she had in mind. She placed that progress squarely under her tenure, in what sounded much like an early draft of a stump speech.

“ budget deficits have been managed, structural deficits are down, new schools and recreation centers are being built for the first time in decades, property taxes are being cut, our city is safer, and we’re creating new jobs every day,” she said. “In short, the things that we’ve been working on in Baltimore have worked.”

The mayor’s comments included heavy praise for Mikulski, whom Rawlings-Blake called a “trailblazer” for women wanting to get into politics at any level.

Rawlings-Blake also called what she has done in Baltimore “a model that certainly would help get things done in Washington, D.C.,” but said she still had to decide in which position she might be most effective.

“I love being mayor, I love having the ability every single day when I wake up to make real change and serve the people of Baltimore, and really work hard to make people’s lives better, because there are a lot of people in Baltimore that need help and that need my help to make their lives better,” Rawlings-Blake said.

“I have to think long and hard about if that’s something I’m willing to give up in order to join the partisan gridlock that we have and, from the of it will continue to have, in Washington, where every day it seems harder and harder to get common sense things done for everyday people struggling to make ends meet,” she added.

The mayor said she would discuss her next steps with her family, and that she will announce her decision about whether to pursue Mikulski’s seat “very soon.”

ralejandro@afro.com