He had lost. Just as his mentor Wayne Keith Curry had predicted.
In 2002, Rushern L. Baker III was unabashedly ambitious. He was a state delegate, but he so wanted to be the Prince George’s County executive that he ran against the advice of his longtime friend. Baker didn't just lose, he was stomped.
When he called, Curry, the former county executive, invited his mentee to a baseball game. Baker expected a lecture.
"He was a special person, who believed deeply in his friends," Baker told reporters during a news conference Thursday at a Landover community center named after Curry, who died Wednesday at his home.
Curry, the first African American to lead Prince George's, was stricken with lung cancer nearly a year ago. As its executive, he helped transform the county and believed that it "could be the greatest place in the world," Baker said.
An emotional Baker, who was elected as county executive in 2010, read a statement he wrote about Curry: "He was far more than a great leader and an iconic personality, Wayne was a remarkable person who touched and changed so many lives."
Baker described the closeness he shared with Curry, whose rough exterior intimidated some but cloaked the 63-year-old's deep concern for others.
When Baker suffered a political defeat, Curry consoled him.
When Baker needed advice, Curry never disappointed.
When Baker's wife, Quinci Baker, was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Curry and his family were a pillar of support.
"There was true love, true brothership," Baker said, pausing and pressing his lips together between sentences. "We loved Wayne deeply, as he loved us."
Like his wife had been before disease ravaged her memory, Curry was Baker's political confidant, advising Baker on everything from political appointees to balancing the job and family life.
Friday was the last time Baker saw Curry, who he said lamented not having had enough time to change the county.
Baker said he looked at the frail Curry and laughingly responded, "Don't worry, Wayne, we have time."