It took more than a week for the City of Baltimore to plow through a mountain of mail-in ballots, some of which kept arriving for days after the election. (The ballots could be postmarked up until election day.) But now they’ve counted a sufficient amount of them to call the mayoral primary race. While he was trailing for quite a while in the early counts, City Council President Brandon Scott has eked out a narrow victory over Charm City’s disgraced former mayor Sheila Dixon, but it literally came down to a couple of percentage points between them. (Baltimore Sun)

Brandon Scott has won the crowded Democratic primary for Baltimore mayor, making good on his campaign to “change the guard” at City Hall and usher in a new generation of leadership.

The 36-year-old City Council president eked out a narrow victory over former Mayor Sheila Dixon, who sought to reclaim the office she lost a decade ago when she resigned amid a public corruption scandal.

Scott holds 29.4% of the votes counted so far in the election, according to returns released Tuesday night, while Dixon has claimed 27.7%. He was ahead by more than 2,300 votes.

If nothing else, this experiment in massive numbers of write-in ballots may at least prove to be something of a Petrie dish in terms of how things will go in November. There are some other races that are still too close to call, and some undisclosed “error” at one of the precincts resulted in most of the ballots having to be recounted by hand. But don’t worry. I’m sure everything worked out square and honest in the end.

The evolution of the mayoral primary vote was also a study in shifting tides. As recently as last Friday, convicted embezzler Sheila Dixon was still leading by a couple of points and looked as if she might be on a path to victory. By Sunday, it was a statistical tie, with Dixon still holding a slight lead.But by Tuesday, Scott had finally pulled into a lead that, while small, continued to grow through the end of the count.

What this appears to tell us is that the largest surge in support that Scott received came from people who decided in the final few days of the race. Those were the ballots that were mailed on Monday and Tuesday of last week and arrived last. It’s certainly possible that many of the undecided voters saw the polling information and realized that they were on the cusp of sending an ex-mayor who was also a convicted criminal back to be in charge of the cookie jar.

This result may come as a relief for those looking for true, foundational change in Baltimore’s government. Brandon Scott is young and he ran on a promise to clear out the old guard in City Hall and restore trust in the government. And since this is Baltimore, the Democratic primary is basically the same as the general election. (Democrats outnumber Republicans by ten to one.) Scott has his plate full, too. He’ll have to figure out how to turn around the city’s skyrocketing gang murder rate and do so while potentially dealing with a second wave of the pandemic. The police have little or no trust in City Hall and most of the community doesn’t think very well of the police. If Scott can cobble together a winning formula he will have pulled off something barely short of a miracle.

But should the vote have even been this close? Has that much really changed in Baltimore? They came within a two percent margin of sending one of the same old corrupt faces that have been dragging the city down for years back to office. Apparently, some people never learn their lesson.