A little after five o’clock Tuesday afternoon it was clear to me former Baltimore City assistant prosecutor Marilyn Mosby was going to defeat incumbent state’s attorney Gregg Bernstein, her old boss.
Because it was right around that time I descended the steps of Mosby’s humid basement election headquarters at the corner of North and Eutaw and discovered University of Maryland law professor Larry Gibson, the legendary political strategist shuffling around in the background doing what he has done perhaps better than anybody else in Baltimore for nearly 50 years.
University of Maryland Law Professor Larry Gibson working his magic at Mosby headquarters on Election Day.
Gibson, who did not officially run Mosby’s campaign (I think that honor really goes to her husband, City Councilman Nick Mosby) had his trusty district maps of Baltimore City plastered on the wall of a makeshift office in the back of the dimly lit basement. He explained that Mosby had a legion of family members (her mother was working the phones when I came in) dispersed throughout the city working the various precincts and polling places.
Then, as he munched on the contents of a box lunch Gibson quietly said, “This ain’t gonna be no cliff hanger.”
Specifically, Gibson said the race would probably be over around 9 p.m., just an hour after the polls closed and he was right; Mosby never trailed Bernstein and her lead, which was high as 16 percent never dipped below 8 percent. And a couple of hours before the polls closed, confidence permeated the Mosby campaign like the humidity.
“He (Bernstein) is about to fall flat on his face,” said Arinze Ifekauche, Mosby’s young political consultant.
Around six o’clock, I talked with Mosby – who was in the process of visiting 27 of the top 30 polling places in the city – by phone. Her voice was raspy but she was undeterred. “I feel great…I’m just so humbled by all the support,” she said.
Now that I think about it I probably knew Bernstein was finished last week when he began touting the fact that he was the only candidate who was born and raised in Baltimore. Then the panic in the Bernstein camp must have really set in over the weekend when the campaign decided to file a complaint with the Board of Elections over the authority line of a Mosby campaign mailer (a claim the Mosby camp quickly and emphatically knocked down with the facts).
With 48 hours to go before the primary, Bernstein seemed to be desperately flailing despite having a huge cash advantage of $630,000 to Mosby’s $200,000.
Early into the evening – as Gibson had predicted – it was over for the incumbent who didn’t officially concede until around 11:30. In the end it was Bernstein – who ironically argued his predecessor Patricia Jessamy was “out of touch,” when he defeated her by just 1,167 votes in 2010 – who was being ousted after just one term.
There is no doubt Bernstein was undone to a large extent by his own hubris – despite his many failings as state’s attorney – and a stunning lack of political acumen.
But, ultimately it was Mosby, a ferocious and nimble challenger who made her case and the people of Baltimore found it compelling enough to give her a shot.
Brown Was Inevitable, McFadden Demolishes Henson, Conway Rolls, Hayes Emerges
The writing was on the wall long before the results of a Washington Post poll that was released earlier this month indicated Lt. Governor Anthony Brown led his democratic rivals, Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur by wide margins. It was the Brown political machine that dismantled the combative Gansler and brushed aside Mizeur (who attempted to take the high road as Brown and Gansler bludgeoned each other). The final results: Brown/Ulman, 51.3percent; Gansler/Ivey, 24.2percent; Mizeur/Coates, 21.7percent
In East Baltimore’s 45th Legislative District it was the old pro, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden who obliterated political henchman turned candidate, Julius Henson 80.7percent to 19.3percent. It seems Henson, who was jailed for allegedly attempting to suppress the Black vote, was the victim of emphatic voter rejection and ultimately wallowed in his own mud.
Also, in East Baltimore 43rd Legislative District Sen. Joan Carter Conway easily cruised to victory over Baltimore City Councilman Bill Henry, 65percent to 35percent. Again, Conway is an essential member of the Baltimore City delegation and the only one who chairs a major Senate committee. Henry is a thoughtful and hard working public servant, but he simply picked the wrong fight.
In many ways Antonio Hayes – who had never held public office before – ran a text book campaign rooted in hard work, hand shaking and door knocking and he was rewarded with the most votes in the crowded race for the 40th Legislative District’s House of Delegates seat, with 18.9percent. Ultimately, I’m pretty sure the people of the 40th in West Baltimore will be rewarded for taking a chance on Hayes.
In an earlier version of this article, Julius Henson was erroneously referred to as a felon. His conviction actually was for a misdemeanor for violating Maryland campaign laws. That reference has been corrected in our electronic media versions of the Afro – American Newspaper, and a retraction will be appear in next week’s print edition of the newspaper.