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Ballot Stuffing

And the Band Played On

Frank Klein
Waiting at the Gate: Primary candidates gather at AFL-CIO HQ to hear whether or not they received the unionís endorsement.

Posted 7/23/2003

You know the campaign season has started in earnest when über-union AFL-CIO endorses its favored candidates, which it did on the evening of Thursday, July 17. Politicians big and tall, large and small, turned out with their minions to mull around in the parking lot in front of the union's Lakeland headquarters, waving banners and hobnobbing as union delegates arrived to cast their votes.

The outcome this time around was less than interesting in the top-of-the-ticket races: the union endorsed no one for Mayor or City Council President, and backed incumbent Comptroller Joan Pratt, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

But a lowly City Council candidate made the whole affair worth attending: Angelo Solera, a Democrat running for an open seat in Southeast Baltimore's 1st District, showed up with the Baltimore Westsiders, a loud and very energetic marching band of about 25 members, playing in full regalia. "I need one of those," quipped one of Solera's opponents, "Baltimore" Bob Murray. Despite the spectacle, Columbia-based attorney Jim Kraft--long a Democratic Party insider--scored the union's support in the 1st.

Solera was surprised but not bitter over the choice, pointing out that he and Murray are the only 1st District candidates who have been union members. "I don't hold it against them," he said in a press release the next day.

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