BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Brandon Scott claimed victory in the Democratic primary race Tuesday night after another round of results came in.

Former Mayor Sheila Dixon trailed entering Tuesday, and she needed to make up ground with only a small number of ballots remaining. Instead, she only received five percent of the vote in Tuesday night’s batch of results, which led AP and WJZ to call the race for Scott.

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Scott came from behind in the delayed primary as more results came in from the primarily mail-in election. On Sunday, he took the lead for the first time and continued gaining momentum, propelling him to a nearly two-point lead as of Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, he held a press conference outside his grandmother’s west Baltimore home, the same place he kicked off his campaign. During it, he said serving the city was the only thing he’s wanted to do with his life.

“Our campaign was about proving to the world, that a young Black man who grew up in a forgotten Baltimore here in Park Heights could survive everything that you have to live through in Baltimore, to be the leader of this city, this great city,” Scott said.

Rising Through The Ranks

Scott has been a city councilman since 2011 and became council president last year when then-president Bernard C. “Jack” Young became mayor in the wake of Catherine Pugh’s resignation amid the “Healthy Holly” scandal.  He emerged victorious from a field that included more than 20 Democrats, including Young and Dixon.

“Today, I stand before you the Democratic nominee for the office of the mayor in Baltimore City, amid record turnout, even though every vote in Baltimore had to overcome circumstances that we have never seen in an election that we have never seen because of COVID-19,” Scott said.

Despite the majority of ballots being returned by mail, some voters who went in person to vote experienced long lines and wait times. Others received ballots in the mail with an error that prevented them from being scanned and counted. Election officials had to transfer those votes onto new ballots.

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Scott did not directly address the election issues on Wednesday.

During the news conference, he thanked the people who voted for him and his supporters and his family, referencing them moving to Baltimore to get away from the rural South, poverty and Jim Crow laws.

Scott recognized his opponents, thanking them for dedicating themselves to focusing on the issues, specifically thanking Dixon and Young, who he said took over the city government after a corruption scandal, a cyber attack, gun violence and then a health pandemic.

“His service to the city of Baltimore in these trying times has been admirable and we owe him a debt of gratitude,” Scott said.

During Wednesday morning’s virtual Board of Estimates meeting, Young offered Scott some advice.

“I’m hoping and praying that you follow your heart and not be surrounded by people who have no common good for you,” Young said. “Watch out for the snakes; there’s plenty of them.”

On Dixon, Scott said he appreciated her commitment to the city.

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“Thank you for showing people that Baltimore does believe in second chances and thank you for remaining committed to the city of Baltimore,” he said.

Through a spokesperson, Dixon provided a statement Wednesday evening she wants the Board of Elections to finish counting every vote. She does not mention Scott by name.

Last week, she said she was keeping all options open but said if she lost, she wouldn’t run again.

Mary Miller, the former Obama administration official who as of Tuesday was in third place among the Democrats, wished Scott success if he wins in November.

“I called Council President Brandon Scott this morning to congratulate him on his likely victory in this hard-fought primary,” she said in a statement. “Brandon ran an excellent campaign, and I appreciate the ideas and the energy he brought to the table. I wish him the best in the next leg of this race.”

“A New Wave Forward”

The council president emphasized he wants his campaign to be seen as an example of a new way forward for the city.

“I want this to be an example to each and every young person in Baltimore: we can do anything we say we want to,” He said.

As Baltimore’s mayor, Scott said he will strive each and every day to remind young people of their worth.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that your ZIP code, that your neighborhood, your city is going to determine how high you can go,” He said.

He said this is just the beginning of building a better Baltimore but added it will take everyone coming together to build a new city.

“Going back to normal wasn’t good enough for Baltimore, going back to normal in Baltimore, was leaving generations of people, neighborhoods behind, families behind, and that’s not the Baltimore that we’re trying to build. A new wave forward is about doing what’s best for Baltimore, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it means that we have to deal with less, even when it means we have to put aside our personal feelings, visions and ways that we see the world to do the greater good,” he said.

He added he’s very eager to see the city council become younger, saying he thinks it’ll be a great thing for Baltimore. Since he joined the council in 2011, nearly every seat has changed hands.

At 36, Scott was the youngest of the mayoral Democratic front-runners and would become the youngest person elected mayor in the city in decades if he wins in the fall.

He was once mentored by the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings and was tabbed for lieutenant governor by an unsuccessful candidate in 2018.

“It’s our time, it’s our time to stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, realizing and recognizing the great work that was done, and fixing things that were broken, so I look forward tow working with every member of the council, in the way that no mayor has before,” He said. 

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On the Republican side, nonprofit executive Shannon Wright emerged victorious. The two will face off in November for the office.

Paul Gessler