That great big headline on the front page of The Sun on Wednesday, Mar. 4, reads like a mathematical miscalculation to me. It says, “Dixon has Edge in Mayor’s Race.”
Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is the leader in a brand new poll, with an underwhelming 16 percent of the electorate saying they’ll likely vote for her in the upcoming mayoral contest.
Some “edge.” According to my arithmetic, even that puny number doesn’t give Dixon the top spot. The top spot belongs to roughly one-third of those polled who call themselves “Undecided.”
I believe there’s another phrase for “Undecided.”
It’s called “None of the Above.”
Second to Dixon’s 16 percent we have a tie: City Council President Brandon Scott and former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah are each running at 10 percent.
If that number sounds pathetic – and it is – consider that Scott, the number two person in city government, and Vignarajah, who’s been advertising on TV more than anybody this side of a car dealership, are losing to Dixon, a woman who’s been criminally convicted in a city whose homicides have the whole town on life support.
Former Mayor Catherine Pugh packs her bags to pay for her literary crimes, and Sheila Dixon unpacks just in time to take back her old position?
And who’s running last in this poll? The current mayor, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, at six percent. Six percent – that’s not a misprint! And he’s that rare Baltimore mayor who hasn’t been convicted of a crime!
But the poll – commissioned by The Sun, the University of Baltimore and WYPR radio – says voters’ number one concern is crime. And for all Young’s good intentions, he seems a man who hasn’t got a plan – or at least the voice – to do anything about it.
Let’s be clear here about some very real mixed emotions. This is a woman who has risen from the political dead. She’s been ridiculed, she’s been mocked and she’s been humiliated.
And yet, she’s got the gumption to go back into the public arena and face her critics and hear the sniping all over again, because she believes she’s the best person for the job.
Those of us who believe in redemption can only salute such toughness.
The problem is that this city — falling apart in so many undernourished neighborhoods, bent on self-destruction in so many ways, lacking friends with money in Annapolis and Washington, lacking self-respect and lacking in first-rate mayoral candidates — is hungry for redemption of its own.
And that’s why so many voters, when asked who they like for mayor, can’t come up with somebody they like.
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” was reissued in paperback by the Johns Hopkins University Press.
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