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Mobtown Beat

Race Results

How the City Council Victors Won

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By Van Smith | Posted 11/17/2004

“You gotta play to win,” the Maryland State Lottery’s old slogan goes. It applies to political races as well as it does to gambling, and its corollary, “you gotta pay to play,” does, too. The winners in November’s City Council elections played—and paid. How much it cost, the return on that spending, who backed their bids, and who was paid to help execute the winning strategies are all matters of public record for a reason: because, as Mayor Martin O’Malley said after his first 1999 mayoral victory, “how you win dictates how you are able to govern.” The public elects these officials, so the public is entitled to know how they won, and the accompanying chart provides a glimpse into that process.

Over and above the efforts of each candidate’s committees (two of them—Agnes Welch and Paula Johnson Branch—actually had more than one committee since the last election in 1999), O’Malley was at work in the council races. His own campaign committee donated a total of $60,500 to 11 of the 15 winning candidates, and funded a slate called Partners in Progress with $34,000 of the $35,000 it raised ($1,000 came from a United Steelworkers of America fund in Frankfort, Ky.). The slate worked for O’Malley and all 15 of the winning council candidates. For those concerned about an independent legislature, it is interesting to note that the entire City Council is indebted to the mayor for campaign funding.

Aside from O’Malley’s influence, though, the chart accounts for each candidate’s fund-raising and expenses since Nov. 23, 1999—the beginning of the first reporting period immediately following the last City Council election. Collectively, $1,815,843 was raised by the 15 winners, and $1,709,483 was spent. For each candidate, the financial figures and the top donors and expenses are determined based on finances disclosed to the state, so in the case of Branch and Welch, whose committees have failed to submit required reports, the information is incomplete. It is worth noting that the heaviest hitters among contributors—people like Orioles owner Peter Angelos, developer C. William Struever, and baker/developer John Paterakis—give through many different entities, and often bring with them many more contributors (family, friends, lawyers, business associates). Thus, it is hard to aggregate the breadth and depth of their political support. This chart focuses instead on the sum totals of contributions by readily identifiable individuals or interests.

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