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Politicsby Mark Reutter12:36 pmOct 19, 20230

What happened at last night’s Scott fundraiser that was closed to the media

“The wins are just starting to come in,” Baltimore’s incumbent mayor tells fellow Democratic officeholders and other supporters

Above: Mayor Brandon Scott speaks to a supporter at last night’s fundraiser. A participant took this picture after media outlets were barred from attending.

“I want to hear everybody – we are excited!” exclaimed Delegate Caylin Young (D, 45th), trying his best to pump up the crowd for the fundraiser that kicked off Mayor Brandon Scott’s bid for a second term in 2024.

Last night’s event attracted about 130 people to the CFG Bank Arena, including a smattering of elected officials, including Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., five House delegates and four of the city’s 14 Council members.

No marquee name figures showed up to stand with the Democratic incumbent.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore was not in attendance.

Nor was Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson, state Senator Antonio Hayes (40th) or state Senator Cory McCray (45th), leader of the BEST Democratic Club that nurtured Scott’s rise from a backbench councilman to the mayoral suite at City Hall.

There were also no official endorsements of Scott in the wake of Delegate Sandy Rosenberg’s surprise announcement yesterday that he was throwing his support behind Sheila Dixon, the former mayor who lost to Scott in 2020 and is now seeking a rematch.

The media was barred from the gathering, Scott fundraiser Colleen Martin-Lauer told The Brew, but sources provided this website with the mayor’s speech and a partial list of attendees.

A competing fundraiser held last night for Sheila Dixon, the leading candidate challenging Scott, did not prohibit the press.

Sheila Dixon’s fundraiser draws faithful fans and frustrated newcomers (10/19/23)

Asked to characterize the mood of the Scott event, one participant texted back, “I’d say the crowd felt obligated.”

Hosts of the event, which was staged at the arena’s Fearless Club, were asked to come up with $6,000. But their identity was not apparent since the traditional “sponsor board,” which credits the leading benefactors of a political fundraiser, was nowhere to be found.

Just how much was raised won’t be publicly known until mid-January, when all candidates are required to submit to the State Board of Elections their fundraising haul for the previous year.

As of its last January 2023 report, People For Brandon M. Scott had $450,000 in the bank.

During his 2020 run for mayor, Scott raised $1.3 million, nearly half of which came after he had defeated Dixon in the Democratic Party primary and was coasting to victory in the general election.

Harborplace and Squeegees

After being introduced by Del. Young, who doubles as deputy director of the city’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights, Scott gave a short speech citing his accomplishments after lamenting the shortcomings of recent predecessors.

“I ran in 2020 because Baltimore needed true leadership after failed leadership sent us spiraling. It was time for the tough work of tackling long-term issues, not just talk about them and pointing a finger. A time for a government that was for all of us, not just some of us,” he said, to applause.

Scott cited the $250 million renovation of the downtown arena, the overhaul of Lexington Market and the placement of the Harborplace pavilions “into capable Baltimore hands” as three of his proudest accomplishments.

He lauded Harborplace’s new owner, P. David Bramble, and developer Thibault Manekin for their contributions to the city.

(Not mentioned were their political contributions – $12,000 in the case of Bramble, his partners and his real estate company – while he’s been in office.)

“We have to be loud about the new Lexington Market, and we don’t see squeegees anymore”  – Brandon Scott.

From the time he took over in December 2020 to now, Scott asserted, “I do one thing all the time as mayor, and that’s to do the right thing.”

He said his holistic violence reduction strategies are now bearing fruit, with homicides down 18% and carjackings 25%, and spent quite awhile lauding his “squeegee strategy.”

“Every mayor since Mayor Schaefer had this thing come to them, ‘What are you going to do, Mister Mayor or Madame Mayor, about the squeegees?’

“And quite honestly, I’ve heard the word squeegee more in the last 40 seconds than I have in the last six months because we brought Baltimore together, not to point the finger, but to make this issue better. And not for the short-term, but for the long-term so it doesn’t come back,” Scott stated, noting that 311 squeegee calls for service have dropped 80%.

“We have to tell the story,” he continued. “Whenever something is going wrong with Baltimore, we love to tell that story. We tell it over and over and over again. And when things are going right, people are silent. We have to be loud about the new Lexington Market, and we don’t see squeegees anymore.”

“The work has just begun. The wins are just starting to come in. And now with capable, unbought, unbossed, unbiased leadership, Baltimore can work to see its highest achievements,” he concluded.

Electeds and Others

Among those attending last night were:

Delegates Nick Allen (D, 8th), Elizabeth Embry (D, 43rd), Jackie Addison (D, 45th) and Robbyn Lewis (D, 46th); Council members Antonio Glover, Phylicia Porter, Robert Stokes and James Torrence; Deputy Mayor Justin Williams; City Administrator Faith Leach; Scott’s Chief of Staff (and 2020 campaign manager) Marvin James; Calvin A. Young, a close Scott friend and partner at Green Street Impact; and Deputy Chief of Staff J.D. Merrill.

Also on hand were a number of local labor leaders, including Josh Fannon, president of Baltimore Fire Officers, and Jermaine Jones, director of the Baltimore-D.C. Metro Building and Construction Trades Council.

Other guests included:

Developer Richard Manekin; Ashiah Parker, executive director of the No Boundaries Coalition; Christian Johansson, former secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development; Scott campaign treasurer Leland Shelton, who works at David Bramble’s real estate company; and Delali Dzirasa, founder of Fearless, a software development company and the husband of Baltimore Deputy Mayor Letitia Dzirasa.

Absent from the fundraiser, according to Brew sources, was the mayor’s girlfriend, Hana Pugh, whose employer, Baltimore Empowered, recently received a $50,000 storefront improvement grant from Downtown Partnership, whose president, Shelonda Stokes, attended last night’s gathering.
• To reach a reporter: reuttermark@yahoo.com

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