The Chatter

Could New City Council President Brandon Scott Be Baltimore’s Next Mayor?

Former Rawlings-Blake staffer just bulked up his resume for 2020 bid.

The upheaval at City Hall following former Mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation last week continued Monday night, with now former 2nd District Councilman Brandon Scott earning a promotion from his colleagues to City Council president.

As the next in succession, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the former council president, officially became Baltimore’s 51st mayor following Pugh’s departure. Pugh, who has not made a public appearance in weeks after taking sick leave April 1, came under fire after receiving more than $800,000 in questionable deals from her Healthy Holly children’s book series.

In the first few days following Young’s ascension to mayor, Scott was essentially locked in a 7-7 stalemate among his City Council colleagues with 6th District member Sharon Green Middleton to succeed Young. Scott, however, won over Ed Reisinger, 69, who represents sections of South and Southwest Baltimore, and Mary Pat Clarke, 77, who represents North and Northeast Baltimore, after reaching out several times to the veteran legislators over the weekend, according to reporting by The Baltimore Sun.

Both Reisinger and Clarke have said they will not be running for reelection in 2020.

Fellow Councilman Bill Henry is planning to officially announce his bid for City Comptroller in June. Altogether, it means more council seats will be up for grabs again after a youthful, majority turnover of the council in 2016.

At the same time, Scott, 35, has all but declared he will run for mayor in 2020.

One Democratic leader, who wished to remain anonymous, told Baltimore magazine the Scott has already signed on with top Maryland fundraising consultant Colleen Martin-Lauer, whose previous clients include former mayors Martin O’Malley and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “At this point, I don’t know what he’s waiting for,” the Democratic official said.

Most likely, it was the opportunity to assume the mantle of City Council president, add the title and experience to an already solid resume—and bask in the support of fellow Democratic leaders in the City.

Scott, who grew up in Park Heights, graduated from Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, where he ran track. He studied political science and graduated from St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland and then got his start in politics as a liaison in the office of then-City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

First elected at 27, one the youngest ever elected to citywide office, Scott serves as chair of the City Council’s high-profile Public Safety Committee and co-founded the anti-violence group 300 Men March. He also is a member of the Budget and Appropriations and Judiciary and Legislative Investigations committees.

Scott would be significantly younger than the average U.S. mayor—56, according to a recent study—should he throw his hat into the ring as expected. But the ambitious Scott would be the same age as Martin O’Malley, another ambitious former councilman, when O’Malley took office and actually possess a few more years of elected office experience.

“Brandon is hard-working, there’s no doubt about that, he’s smart, and capable,” said former 1st District City Councilman James Kraft, who was not making an endorsement, but expressed confidence in his former colleague’s ability to handle the city’s top job. “He’d also surround himself with smart, good people.”

Pugh’s reelection was by no means a done deal before the recent book scandal and FBI and IRS raids. It’s broken wide open now.

Former Deputy Attorney General of Maryland “Thiru” Vignarajah has announced he’s running. Most observers expect former Mayor Sheila Dixon to run again. State Sen. Bill Ferguson and former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith are said to be considering bids. State Sen. Jill Carter, who proposed the legislation that helped launch the Healthy Holly and University of Maryland Medical System investigation, and state Sen. Mary Washington are two more credible potential candidates.

Then there are folks like business leader David Warnock, former Maryland AG Criminal Division head Elizabeth Warnock, and state Del. Nick Mosby, who all ran in 2016 and could conceivably take another crack.

A potential bid by former NAACP chief Ben Jealous, who won the Democratic nomination for governor and recently bought a house in Baltimore, is also garnering a lot of interest in local Democratic circles.

There is always the chance that Young, who has said he’s not interested in running for mayor, could decide he likes the job of mayor and try to win election to the office.

And that’s just the short list.