Why did Baltimore mayor suddenly withdraw from reelection campaign?

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake led Baltimore through the civil unrest following the death of Freddie Gray in April. Her decision not to run for reelection comes as national attention has turned to the upcoming trials of six officers charged in Mr. Grays death.

Alex Brandon/AP/File
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake prepares to speak at a media availability at City Hall in Baltimore, May 1. Ms. Rawlings-Blake said Friday, she will not seek re-election nearly five months after the city erupted in rioting following the death of Freddie Gray, who was injured while in police custody. The announcement comes just days after officials said the city would pay Gray's family $6.4 million to settle civil claims over his spinal injury.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced on Friday that she won’t seek re-election.

Ms. Rawlings-Blake briefed her staff on her decision this morning, according to a Baltimore Sun report. She faced myriad obstacles in her potential run for office, including harsh criticism for the handling of riots prompted by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died from a spinal cord injury while in police custody. The mayor maintains that she is abandoning her re-election campaign to focus on the city. 

“It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time, the remaining 15 months of my term, focused on the city’s future and not my own,” she said at a conference in City Hall.

The announcement comes at a pivotal time for the city of Baltimore.

The day before Rawlings-Blake’s announcement, a judge announced that the six police offers charged in connection with Mr. Gray's death will be facing trial in Baltimore. The city also this week agreed to a $6.4 million settlement with the Gray family.

The city's response to the riots that followed the Grays death in April prompted wide criticism of Rawlings-Blake. Criticism over her delay in asking Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan to call in the National Guard has become fuel for other candidates in the upcoming mayor election.

The election is becoming increasingly cramped for Democratic candidates. Many are lining up for a chance to replace Rawlings-Blake. Two of her main opponents may include former mayor Sheila Dixon, who was forced out by a corruption scandal, and City Councilman Nick Mosby, husband of the state’s attorney who is prosecuting the officers charged in relation to Gray’s death.

Nick Mosby has not declared his candidacy yet, but is strongly considering it. “I think the city is in a place where folks want new direction, they’re not comfortable with the current administration, they want change,” Mr. Mosby told The New York Times.

Rawlings-Blake plans to spend her remaining 15 months as mayor pushing her plans to build more recreation centers in the city and other community building initiatives.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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