Monday, August 13, 2007

BALTIMORE (AP) — Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected this morning to endorse acting Mayor Sheila Dixon for mayor, says Dixon campaign manager Martha McKenna.

Mrs. Dixon, a Democrat, became mayor in January when Mr. O’Malley was sworn in as governor. She previously served as City Council president.

O’Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese declined to comment on such an endorsement, but confirmed the governor recently met with Mrs. Dixon and her rival, City Council member Keiffer Mitchell.

Mrs. Dixon and Mr. Mitchell are among eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 11 mayoral primary. Mrs. Dixon holds a more than 3-to-1 lead over Mr. Mitchell, her nearest rival in the primary, according to a poll published by the Baltimore Sun.

The poll found Mrs. Dixon ahead of Mr. Mitchell 47 percent to 15 percent, with 28 percent undecided. The other six candidates in the primary received less than 5 percent each.

Mr. Mitchell said Saturday that Mr. O’Malley told him at a recent meeting about city issues that he would endorse Mrs. Dixon. However, he declined to discuss the governor’s reasons, saying it was “a conversation between two colleagues.”

With Mr. O’Malley backing Mrs. Dixon, Mr. Mitchell said his campaign is now officially “running against the establishment and those satisfied with the status quo.”

Though he may not have the governor’s endorsement, Mr. Mitchell says he has endorsements from the rank and file in the city’s police, fire and sheriff’s departments.

“The bottom line is that people feel that the city is slipping back,” he said, noting Baltimore is on pace for 300 homicides this year. The school system has lacked leadership and accountability, Mr. Mitchell said, and he is calling for mayoral control of the school system.

Mrs. Dixon also leads Mr. Mitchell in fundraising. She raised $1.2 million from Jan. 11 to Aug. 7. Mr. Mitchell raised $651,000, according to the campaigns.

Mrs. Dixon campaign also has nearly four times as much cash on hand, $723,000 to Mr. Mitchell’s $200,000.

Other Democratic candidates for mayor include city schools Administrator Andrey Bundley, state Delegate Jill P. Carter, Circuit Court Clerk Frank M. Conway Sr., activist A. Robert Kaufman and businessman Mike Schaefer.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Elbert R. Henderson, the lone Republican candidate.

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