Two years ago the voters here assured the defeat of Republican J. Glenn Beall Jr. by going 3 to 1 for Paul S. Sarbanes in the U.S. Senate race. It was Beall's worse showing in Maryland and he vowed then never again to run for public office.
Yesterday Beall, now his party's nominee for governor, came back to Baltimore with his black running mate, Aris T. Allen, and a new strategy for recapturing the city.
Beall went to deteriorating housing projects to renovated shopping malls in Baltimore's old riot area and to a model Head-Start program to tell the poor that his ticket will not neglect them.
"No one has come to you before," Beall told one welfare mother. "I'm here to listen and see if I can't help."
It was the same message Beall delivered to a group of Baltimore small businessmen during the Republican primary this summer, another sector of the city's Democrats whom Beall describes as neglected by their party.
"We have to win the city this year if we have a chance at winning the election," said John Shlaes, campaign director for Beall who joined the morning walking tour in East Baltimore. "It means Glenn has to be the aggressive one, find the disenfranchised Democrats and convince them he is sincere."
The key to Beall's promise of sincerity is Allen, the 67-year-oild Annapolis physician who is the state's first black lieutenant governor candidate.
Walking down one of the narrow sidewalks outside the Lafayette housing project, Allen stopped for a moment to talk with an elderly black man. After the man passed by, Allen turned and said: "I looked at this one man here and told him I'm running for lieutenant governor and his face lit up. I think they're saying, 'hey, I'm glad you're on the ticket.'"
At the nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Parent and Child Care Center, many of the mothers gathered to listen to Beall and Allen said they will vote for the ticket because "a black man is running."
"It would be unfair to say I didn't think about Allen being a black candidate," said Joyce Obey, the program's director and a registered Democrat. "Except for (Congressman) Parren Mitchell, no other candidate has been down here recently. I just wonder if Beall and Allen are going to remember us. They talked promises to the mothers and I'll be looking for results.
The only pledges made by Beall and Allen, however, were to investigate the problems facing the mothers. They offered no solutions.
After watching toddlers finger point and be toilet trained, Beall and Allen conducted a roundtable question and answer discussion with the children's mothers. The mothers told Beall they were not receiving the milk they need to feed their babies nor the support they need to keep their apartments repaired and secure.
"The elevator at our project is broken and I have to walk down 11 flights of stairs with my two babies," said Dorothy Chapman.