Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — who battled criticism over her handling of riots earlier this year in the wake of the death in police custody of Freddie Gray — said Friday that she will not seek re-election in 2016.
Democrat Rawlings-Blake, 45, made the announcement during a morning news conference, citing her desire to concentrate on rebuilding efforts in the city in the wake of the April riots.
“It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time focused on the city’s future, not my own,” she said.
“Every moment that I spend planning for a campaign or re-election was time that I was taking away from my current responsibilities to the city, to the city that I love,” she said.
The announcement comes two days after Baltimore approved a $6.4 million settlement with Freddie Gray’s family.
As The Baltimore Sun notes:
“The mayor abandons her re-election campaign amid a growing field of Democratic challengers in the April primary, including former Mayor Sheila Dixon, state Sen. Catherine Pugh and City Councilman Carl Stokes.
“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.”
The New York Times adds:
“The mayor is leaving elective office just as her national star is rising; this summer, she became the first black woman to head the United States Conference of Mayors. But her tenure in Baltimore has been rocky, especially since the unrest that followed Mr. Gray’s death, and several candidates are vying to succeed her.
“One is Sheila Dixon, a popular former mayor who was forced out of office in 2010 because of a scandal and who has already announced she is running. Another potential candidate is Nick Mosby, a Baltimore city councilman and the husband of Marilyn J. Mosby, the state’s attorney for the city of Baltimore, who is prosecuting the officers.”