The last time Nick Mosby attended an election night party at Melba’s Place on Greenmount Avenue, it was for his then-wife, Marilyn Mosby. Their daughters and supporters watched as votes trickled in and her chances diminished.

The former Baltimore state’s attorney lost that 2022 election badly, finishing third in a three-way race.

Tuesday was déjà vu for Nick Mosby. At Melba’s Place with his daughters and a few dozen supporters, he watched his reelection chances dim. Votes are still being tallied, but it appears he will lose as badly as she did, if not worse.

This time there was no Marilyn Mosby. The couple divorced last year and, apart from some painful, emotional testimony in federal court, haven’t been seen together.

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The Baltimore City Council president ran and lost his reelection bid in largely the same fashion as the former top prosecutor. Both filed their candidacies much later than their opponents. Both were outraised. And, ultimately, scandal overshadowed both campaigns.

Nick Mosby’s electoral defeat to Zeke Cohen, a white Democrat from Southeast Baltimore, marks the end of an era. Come December, it will be the first time since 2011 that neither Mosby has held a political office in Maryland.

“As a little boy, all I wanted to do was serve the city of Baltimore,” Nick Mosby told a sparse room of supporters at Melba’s Place a little before 11 p.m. on election night, not yet admitting his defeat but surely knowing it. “And the reality is, I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to do that for so, so long.”

Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby is greeted by supporters at Melba’s Place Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in Baltimore.
Nick Mosby is greeted by supporters at Melba’s Place at his election night party. (Gail Burton / The Baltimore Banner)

The Mosbys’ fall, like their ascent, is shocking in its totality. Before they were politicians, they were college sweethearts who met at Tuskegee University in Alabama. They moved to his hometown of Baltimore and fixed up a vacant home in Reservoir Hill. He was an electrical engineer. Marilyn Mosby, a Boston native, was a district court prosecutor and, later, an insurance attorney.

Then came politics. Nick Mosby took office first in 2011. She followed in 2015. Their political successes, hard-fought wins for the Black community and responses to the riots that roiled Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s death in 2015, rocketed them to fame that included glowing national media coverage. There was a time, albeit brief, that the power couple could have been mayor and state’s attorney together.

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Instead, they were plagued by public mistakes. The local media documented every wrong move. Marilyn Mosby made enemies within the political establishment. The FBI raided Nick Mosby’s City Council office. He didn’t pay their taxes. He failed, repeatedly, to file campaign finance reports properly. She was indicted for perjury and mortgage fraud.

Everything came to a head in January at Marilyn Mosby’s second trial, when Nick Mosby took the witness stand. At issue was primarily whether Marilyn Mosby knowingly failed to disclose to the bank she and Nick Mosby owed taxes to the IRS. She claimed he lied to her about paying the lien off; he stood by her claims under oath. Marilyn Mosby did not return a message seeking comment for this article.

In a court filing ahead of her sentencing next week, Marilyn Mosby’s attorneys described Nick Mosby as “financially irresponsible and coming apart at the seams.”

Numerous times since his ex-wife’s indictment, Nick Mosby has lamented that he never expected his personal tax returns to balloon into a multiyear investigation “into every aspect of my life.”

Nick Mosby’s testimony in Marilyn Mosby’s second trial likely spared her one guilty verdict; it also yielded a painful day of questioning in which federal prosecutors alleged that he also committed perjury and laid bare the full extent of his financial errors. And, despite a public humiliation and questions about his fitness for office, Nick Mosby decided to run for office anyway, the same as his ex-wife did in 2022 after her indictment.

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Marilyn Mosby is scheduled to be sentenced next week. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

”Most people would’ve given up,” said state Sen. Antonio Hayes, who represents West Baltimore and has been friends with Nick Mosby since they attended high school at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute together. “Most people would’ve went into hiding. He stood tall and took it on the chin and ran a political campaign.”

To some, however, it seemed Nick Mosby hardly ran a campaign at all. Hayes said his friend has always had a tendency to wait until “the fourth quarter” to start campaigning.

Jack Young, a former Baltimore mayor and City Council president who endorsed Nick Mosby, said he thought the council president focused on his job over his reelection, calling it an admirable approach that likely damaged his chances.

But, as the former mayor says, “life goes on.”

“It ain’t the end of the world.”

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During his terms on City Council and in the state legislature representing West Baltimore, Nick Mosby championed legislation that he hoped would lift underserved communities. In his early days on City Council, he led the successful campaign to “ban the box,” barring employers from asking job applicants about their criminal records. On the city’s powerful spending board, he frequently rails against decisions that in his view fail to boost local and minority-owned businesses.

He ran for mayor in the 2016 race but pulled out of the election just before the primary. As a delegate in Annapolis, he was key to keeping the Preakness Stakes in Northwest Baltimore. He sought increased funding for historically Black colleges and universities. He fought wider adoption of mandatory minimum sentences.

“He brought home the bacon for the Black community,” said William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr., a prominent defense attorney and leader in Maryland’s Black community. “He is an exceptional leader.”

Even rivals of the council president acknowledge his commitment to his hometown. After Nick Mosby’s concession during a Board of Estimates meeting the day after the election, Cohen thanked the council president for his leadership.

“Nick loves our kids and our city and I am grateful for all he’s done and will continue to do,” Cohen posted on social media.

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Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby stands between his daughters outside of a Baltimore polling place on Election Day, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
Nick Mosby and his daughters, Nylyn and Aniyah, greet voters outside of Harlem Park Recreation Center on election day. (Jessica Gallagher / The Baltimore Banner)

But Nick Mosby’s political maneuvering was prone to backfiring. Such was the case with his 2022 attempt to revive Baltimore’s famed Dollar House program. That initiative imploded as more than 100 activists invited by his lead expert packed City Hall, shouting, chanting and, at one point, banging on Mayor Brandon Scott’s door. The council president apologized for the chaos the next day.

Marilyn Mosby also took bold stands during her political career. She ended prosecution of low-level offenses such as marijuana possession and loitering because they disproportionately affected Black people. She formed a conviction integrity unit which sought to identify and free the wrongfully incarcerated. She worked to address police corruption.

She made enemies, clashing with former Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and with former Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat. She and the Baltimore Police Department never recovered from her decision to charge the Freddie Gray officers, none of whom was convicted.

And her 2020 move to tamp criticism of her trips abroad by asking for a probe into whether she had misused taxpayer money backfired spectacularly, with the investigation raising new questions that would become fodder for charges against her.

Once inseparable in the public eye, the Mosbys are on divergent paths forward.

Marilyn Mosby is scheduled to be sentenced on perjury and mortgage fraud convictions next week. She has been lobbying President Joe Biden for a pardon, making national television and radio appearances and touting the support of the NAACP. Before her trials, she was trying to get her burgeoning travel business off the ground and had organized a women’s retreat in the Caribbean.

Nick Mosby, who described himself as a “Girl Dad” on his campaign website, spends much of his time at City Hall or in school pick-up lines. He said in an interview that, after leaving office, he looks forward to “getting back to the stuff I was pretty good at” — perhaps a hint that he could return to the private sector. He once worked for Verizon and Baltimore Gas and Electric.

He wouldn’t say if he will make a return to politics. Whatever they decide, friends and allies hope the Mosbys don’t give up public service.

“My hope is this is not the end, not the end story for them, though it is a significant interruption,” said Kurt Schmoke, who for the better part of two decades was Baltimore mayor or state’s attorney. “I hope it’s not the last time we hear about Nick or Marilyn involved in public life.”