Landers blasts The Sun, says race isn't over yet
Sun colleague Ed Gunts reports:
Baltimore mayoral challenger Joseph T. “Jody” Landers III urged city voters to go the polls on Tuesday and not be misled by “political commentators and pundits” -- including those at The Baltimore Sun -- who he said were predicting the outcome of the primary election before ballots have been cast.
“The point I want to get across today, in the strongest language possible, is that this election is not over,” Landers said at a news conference Monday morning at his Key Highway campaign headquarters. “The citizens have yet to register their votes ... Each and every vote counts.”
Landers, one of six candidates for mayor in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election, said he called the news conference because he wanted to call attention to “negative influences” he believes are affecting the race.
He warned that media reports that suggest that the mayor’s race is a “fait accompli” and state that incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has a commanding lead in the polls will only discourage voter turnout.
Rawlings-Blake finished first in a Sun Poll of likely Democratic voters last month with the support of 50 percent of respondents. State Sen. Catherine E. Pugh came in second with 12 percent. Landers finished tied for fourth with 5 percent.
“The media and the political commentators and pundits are doing the citizens of Baltimore a disservice, by predicting the outcome of the race before the voters have gone to the polls,” he said. “The actual election takes place tomorrow, Tuesday, September 13th. It is clear to me that the media’s characterization of this race as a fait accompli just discourages voters from expressing themselves at the ballot box.”
Landers said people tend to lose interest in an election if they think their vote doesn’t matter, and he doesn’t want people to stay away from the polls on Tuesday.
“When someone tells you the outcome of a sporting event or how the plot of a movie ends, most of us lose our motivation to watch the game or the film,” he said. “When the political commentators and prognosticators make pronouncements about the outcome of an election before the election day, it has the same effect. … No one should tell us, or make us believe that it isn’t worth the bother, or that it is a done deal. From the voters’ perspective, the only poll that means anything is the poll taken on Election Day in the voting booth”
Landers also said he was troubled by The Baltimore Sun’s endorsement process and the makeup of the Sun’s editorial board. He said he was granted an interview with the editorial board, which he was told “consisted of five writers and managers at The Sun”. After reading on Friday that the board endorsed Rawlings-Blake, he said, he asked how many of the editorial board members live in Baltimore City and was told “currently two of the five, though all of us have at one time or another.”
Landers said it occurred to him that the five member board was not seeing or experiencing the city from the same perspective that he does as a life long resident.
“As a citizen, I am incensed and amazed by the fact that the editorial group is attempting to influence city voters, when a majority of the editorial board does not even live in Baltimore City,” Landers said. “For a majority of the editorial board, the endorsement process is nothing more than an academic exercise, since they do not live in the city and do not have to live with the consequences of their recommendations one way or the other.”
Landers said he also believes the media in general has been manipulative and duplicitous in its campaign coverage, by making the incumbent “the lead in many stories” but giving less exposure to her competitors.
“I think the citizens of Baltimore are smart enough to know that when the media shows up at a mayoral press conference and skips a candidate press conference, it is manipulative,” he sad.
Landers is one of five Democratic challengers to Rawlings-Blake. The others are Clerk of Court Frank M. Conaway Sr., Pugh, former city planning director Otis Rolley and activist Wilton Wilson.
Landers said he was working to encourage city residents to vote Monday by waving to traffic in the morning and knocking on doors in the afternoon.
City polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.