Joining an already crowded field, businessman David L. Warnock ended months of speculation among Baltimore’s chattering class with his announcement today that he is running for mayor.
A Michigan native and former T. Rowe Price executive vice president who went on to found one of the city’s largest private equity firms, Warnock has also been an energetic philanthropist.
In today’s announcement, he highlighted his civic resume as the founder of the Green Street Academy charter school in southwest Baltimore, board chairman of the Center for Urban Families, and funder of numerous progressive projects through his Warnock Foundation.
“I’ve been doing this work in Baltimore since before the cameras were rolling,” said Warnock. “And if you elect me as your mayor, I’ll continue to do the work to move Baltimore forward. I will do the work to ensure Baltimore is a prosperous city for everyone, regardless which neighborhood they live in.”
In any other election, Warnock might face insurmountable challenges.
A white candidate in a majority black city with no government experience, Warnock has little name recognition among city voters.
But in a political landscape altered by the April protests and rioting – and by the subsequent decision by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to drop out of the race – a passel of hopefuls have jumped into the race setting up a potential split vote.
With half a year of campaigning ahead of them before the April 26 primary election, the candidates are challenged to fill the leadership vacuum – and respond to the crushing needs – highlighted so dramatically in April.
It’s a point that Warnock, the only prominent mayoral candidate who is not a career politician, sought to make in his statement today.
“This is the most important election in our lifetime,” Warnock said. “I fundamentally believe in Baltimore. This is the time to take the sum of my whole life’s work and work for Baltimore. ”
Career Politicians Dominate
Among the candidates who have already declared are former mayor Sheila Dixon, widely popular despite her 2010 resignation following an embezzlement conviction, and Councilman Nick J. Mosby, who brings backing from City Hall regulars and powerful campaign strategist and fundraiser Colleen Martin-Lauer, as well as name recognition via his wife, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby.
Additionally, two elected Democrats who have announced are City Councilman Carl Stokes and State Senator Catherine Pugh, both of whom have mounted unsuccessful campaigns for mayor in the past.
Other Democrats in the race are Calvin Allen Young III, Mike Maraziti, Joshua S. Harris, Mack Clifton and Richard Black. Brian Charles Vaeth has filed to run as a Republican.
Warnock, 57, has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin. He is chairman of the board of the business-booster group, The Greater Baltimore Committee, and has said he will step down from that position as a mayoral candidate.
Warnock came to Baltimore in the 1980s, went to work for T. Rowe Price and co-founded the private equity firm Camden Partners in 1995. He moved earlier this year from Baltimore County to a condominium in the Ritz Carlton Residences.
He plans to kick-off his campaign at an event scheduled for November 23.