By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
Technically the 41st district Senate seat is still occupied by long time legislator Nathaniel Oaks. However, the pending corruption charges against him have fueled speculation that two high profile candidates may vie for it next June when the democratic primaries are held for state office seekers: Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and ex-State Delegate Jill Carter.
Two formidable Baltimore politicians, former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon and former 41st District Del. Jill Carter may be eyeing the 41st District State Senate seat currently held by embattled Sen. Nathaniel Oaks. (Courtesy Photos)
The potential matchup would pit two of the city’s best known and most formidable politicians in a battle for the 41st district senate seat, and offer a rematch between a former mayor who resigned from office and the top vote getter in that district.
“They might smell blood in the water,” said Delegate Curt Anderson (D-43). “Depending on what happens with the charges.”
Oaks was appointed to the seat after Lisa Gladden resigned in 2016 due to health reasons. But six months after joining the senate he was indicted on nine counts of bribery and fraud charges for allegedly accepting payments in exchange for helping FBI informants to procure a federal housing contract.
His trial is scheduled to begin in May.
Both Carter and Dixon have name recognition and decades of experience in public office. But in the 41st, Carter would hold the advantage some say due to her commanding vote tallies in previous elections.
“Jill certainly has won by a wide margin in the district, “Anderson said.
Still, neither candidate has formally announced their intention to run. Dixon told the AFRO she is still in the process of weighing her options.
“I’m between 50 percent to 75 percent,” she said. “I’m waiting to meet with some key constituents to get their input before I decide.”
Former Delegate Carter who currently heads the city’s Civil Rights and Wage enforcement office says she is considering running but has also not decided.
“At this point I am not saying I will run, I am being asked forcefully by many people to run,” Carter said.
But the lack of clarity on who will be on ballot next year didn’t stop either candidate from criticizing their prospective opponent.
“Why didn’t she go for the seat when it was open,” Dixon said, referring to the process during which Oaks was selected by the Democratic Central Committee.
“I think the 41st district has been neglected and I can use my skills and experience to change that.”
But Carter was more blunt, noting Dixon’s prosecution for corruption while she was mayor and subsequent resignation shortly after her conviction in 2010.
“Time for her to give it up. She had a long career in politics and it ended badly. It’s over and that’s that,” Carter said.
Since he was charged Oaks has maintained his innocence and has given no indications that he will step down, perhaps making the electoral machinations even more dicey.
“Technically his trial could be postponed,” Anderson noted.
Oaks did not return a request for comment,
The potential battle in the 41st comes amid a flurry of challenges to sitting state senators that are making the upcoming campaign season unusually active. State Delegate Cory McCray (D-45), has announced a run for the 45th district seat held by Nathaniel McFadden. Similarly, Delegate Antonio Hayes (D-40), recently threw his hat into the ring in the 40th to unseat Senator Barbara Robinson.
State Delegate Mary Washington (D-43) has filed to challenge Senator Joan Carter- Conway, who has held the 43rd district senate seat for nearly 20 years. She says the upstart campaigns are a response to constituents who want more engaged representatives.
“I think what a lot of us understand is there is a grassroots push to be more engaged,” she said. “The electorate is not accepting the top down approach anymore.”