Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates named Zeke Cohen as his pick for City Council president on Wednesday, calling him “the one person in this race who can hit the ground running.”

Cohen, a councilman who currently represents Southeast Baltimore, faces incumbent City Council President Nick Mosby and former City Councilwoman Shannon Sneed in the Democratic primary. Bates’ endorsement marks the first time he’s publicly weighed in on the 2024 primary, which will be held May 14.

The endorsement is not exactly a surprise. Cohen endorsed Bates in the 2022 Democratic primary, when he faced then-State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby — who was formerly married to Nick Mosby — and Thiru Vignarajah. Bates’ announcement came less than a month after federal prosecutors claimed Nick Mosby repeatedly committed perjury on his tax returns during the January mortgage fraud trial of his ex-wife. The official has not been charged with a crime.

Over the past few weeks, Bates said, he’s observed “what’s been going on in the race for City Council president.” It became “clear to me” that it was time to “express my appreciation and respect” for Cohen, the state’s attorney said.

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After stepping into an office in “disarray” with high levels of turnover and burnout, “I realized how important partnerships really are. You can’t work in a silo,” Bates said, calling Cohen a strong partner dedicated to making Baltimore a safer city.

Cohen called his 2022 endorsement of Bates one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

“I gotta dispel a certain myth, which is that Ivan is interested in returning to mass incarceration. That is simply not true,” Cohen said. “What he is interested in is public safety.”

The councilman praised the citation docket and Bates’ return to prosecuting low-level offenses, calling it “an embodiment of what everyone keeps saying that they want: accountability and services.” He attributed a decline in murders to Bates’ work and pledged to serve as a partner in that effort as City Council president.

Wanda Heard, a retired Circuit Court judge who lives in West Baltimore, introduced Bates at the event. She drew similarities between the two men, saying their different jobs would work in tandem to make Baltimore safer.

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“One is responsible for public safety and law enforcement. And the other one is about programs and services and how we spend the money,” Heard said. “They understand that their jobs are similar but different, and they need to work together.”

Cohen has also received nods from Comptroller Bill Henry and the Metropolitan Baltimore AFL-CIO Council.

A September survey from the Goucher College Poll and The Baltimore Banner found Cohen held a double-digit lead over Mosby. The poll was taken before Sneed entered the race. At the time, about one-third of respondents said they wanted a candidate other than Mosby or Cohen.

Sixty percent of those responding said they had an unfavorable view of Mosby. That same survey showed Bates was the most favorably viewed citywide official among positions polled.

According to a poll paid for by the Cohen campaign, each candidate has sway with a decent chunk of the Democratic electorate, with Cohen in the lead. Of the 400 likely voters who took the poll, 31% said they would vote for Cohen, while 22% said Mosby and 18% said Sneed. The survey was conducted by Global Strategy Group from Feb. 15 to Feb. 20 and has a 4.9 percentage point margin of error.

Emily Sullivan covers Baltimore City Hall. She joined the Banner after three years at WYPR, where she won multiple awards for her radio stories on city politics and culture. She previously reported for NPR’s national airwaves, focusing on business news and breaking news.

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