Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, beleaguered by the death of Freddie Gray and the protests and rioting that followed, announced Friday she won’t seek re-election.
She said she is stepping out of the race to focus on “work to move our city forward,” and not out of any concern she might not win the race against a growing field of challengers.
“It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time, the remaining 15 months of my term, focused on the city’s future and not my own,” she said at a news conference at City Hall.
Rawlings-Blake, 45, has no plans to seek another office. She briefed her Cabinet and staff on the decision this morning.
She spent recent months ramping up her campaign by building a field organization in the city, hosting fundraisers and courting voters with events such as “Mondays with the Mayor” at local bars and restaurants. But sources familiar with her decision said she felt it would be inappropriate to ask donors for money while the city copes with the aftermath of the April riots.
City leaders and police have meanwhile been readying for the possibility or more unrest. The first trial in the Gray case is scheduled for Oct. 13, though that date could change, and a judge ruled Thursday the cases would move forward in Baltimore courts. The officers involved face charges ranging from second-degree murder to assault and misconduct in office.
The mayor’s decision also comes days after her administration agreed to pay Gray’s family $6.4 million in a settlement that accepted all civil liability in his death but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing by police.
The mayor abandons her re-election campaign as the field of Democratic challengers in the April primary grows, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, state Sen. Catherine Pugh and City Councilman Carl Stokes.
But Rawlings-Blake said she was not daunted by the competition.
“I knew this would be a very hotly contested campaign, and I haven’t lost a campaign since middle school,” she said. “It’s not that I didn’t think I could win. I just had to ask myself the question, ‘At what cost?'”
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