A national firefighters union has contributed $50,000 to a super PAC supporting Mayor Brandon Scott, marking the first hefty, public donation to an independent fundraising group supporting the incumbent Democrat.

The International Association of Fire Fighters FIREPAC sent the check to Baltimore Forward, a super PAC formed to support Scott’s reelection. Such groups are prohibited from coordinating their activities with campaigns or political parties.

State records show the Washington-based IAFF group was formed April 1. The union’s General President Edward Kelly serves as chairman, while Frank Lima, another top union official, serves as treasurer. FIREPAC also contributed the maximum of $6,000 directly to Scott’s campaign.

The $50,000 check is a big donation for the national union, which has historically contributed much less to state and local races, and in line with enthusiastic endorsements from the city’s IAFF chapters.

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In October 2022, IAFF used a similar committee to send $6,000 to Gov. Wes Moore’s campaign, as well as $6,000 to Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller. The now-closed committee also donated $3,500 to Doug Rathell, a veteran firefighter who unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for a seat in the House of Delegates.

A national IAFF spokesman did not return a request for comment.

According to a new poll from Goucher College Poll and The Baltimore Banner, Scott’s chief rival in the mayoral Democratic primary is former Mayor Sheila Dixon. About 40% of likely Democratic voters surveyed said they would reelect Scott for a second term, while 32% said they’d vote for Dixon.

At a March endorsement event, local IAFF leadership slammed Dixon for station closures and salary cuts during her mayoral tenure and issued a sharp rebuke of her 2009 embezzlement conviction. She resigned as mayor in 2010 as part of a plea deal on state perjury charges.

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Baltimore Forward was formed in late March by chairwoman Maisheda Lee-Lucas and treasurer Leticia Langston. The group has not yet reported any financial activity. Maryland super PACs must file a public report within 48 hours of spending $10,000 or more.

Another super PAC formed to support Scott closed after less than a month of existence and raising no money. The Working for Baltimore PAC was formed in mid-March by aides to Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and state Sen. Cory McCray, two Scott allies.

A super PAC in support of Dixon has raised more than $600,000, with a majority of donations from real estate developer Jack Luetkemeyer Jr. and David Smith, chairman of Sinclair Inc. and new co-owner of The Baltimore Sun. The Better Baltimore super PAC has aired attack ads that label Scott as a “nice guy, bad mayor.”

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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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