Shouldn't you be running along?
State Sen. Catherine Pugh founded the Baltimore Running Festival a decade ago and has remained involved with the event ever since. So it should have been no surprise that she’d show up last week at a news conference to promote the marathon at Under Armour’s corporate headquarters.
But it sounds as if her appearance did not go over well with the mayor’s office.
A source who was there tells me that Renee Samuels, a special assistant to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, asked Pugh to leave before the event got underway.
Pugh not only ignored the request, I’m told, but had a chair brought forward so she could sit with race organizers and other dignitaries at the front of the room.
Pugh, said to be on Rawlings-Blake’s bad side because she is considering a run for mayor herself, did not dispute the story when I called. But she wasn’t commenting, either.
“I have a lot of things I’m focused on,” she said. “Negativity is not one of them.”
I also phoned Samuels and said I’d heard she’d asked Pugh to leave.
“Did you?” she asked. She referred me to the mayor’s communications office.
I emailed Rawlings-Blake spokesman Ryan O’Doherty, telling him what I’d heard.
“Sound realistic to you?” he wrote back.
“Sen. Pugh and many other officials attended the press event from beginning to end,” he said in a follow-up e-mail. “Of course, no one ever asked anyone to leave the event.”
I also called Lee Corrigan, whose Corrigan Sports Enterprises puts on the race, to ask about the most taxing part of the marathon. Not running 26.2 miles, but managing two mayoral rivals in the same room. He laughed.
“I’m going to have to do the diplomatic thing and say, ‘No comment’ on that point because I don’t want to get myself in a bad spot with either one,” he said. “I love both of them. They’re both very supportive of the event.”
But is it true that the mayor’s office tried to oust Pugh from the press conference?
“The only thing I’ll say is Catherine Pugh did a terrific job helping us get this off the ground,” Corrigan said, “and Stephanie has done a wonderful job continuing to support the event.”
Sun photo of Catherine Pugh by Amy Davis