Mayor Brandon Scott handily won Tuesday night. Now what?

For one, Scott is now solidified as the current center of political gravity in Baltimore in a big way. The Democrat’s primary win gives him a chance to become the longest-serving mayor since Kurt Schmoke, who served from 1987 to 1999. Martin O’Malley was elected to two terms, but left his second one early for the governor‘s mansion. In deep-blue Baltimore, Scott will likely soar to victory in November.

That means the mayor will need to navigate relationships with politicos who snubbed him and the chunk of voters who cast ballots for former Mayor Sheila Dixon.

On Tuesday night, the mayor acknowledged he doesn’t have much time to rest on his laurels. He ended an exuberant victory speech by quoting the late Rep. Elijah Cummings: “Winning elections is never the goal. Completing the work is.”

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Reshaped political alliances

The relationships that elected officials have with one another are more than inside baseball. They directly affect the details of legislation and the speed with which bills are passed.

When Scott won the 2020 Democratic nomination, he did so with the explicit endorsements of many officials who sat out of this year’s race altogether. How their relationships evolve is something to watch.

That group includes Zeke Cohen, who won the Democratic primary for City Council president, and endorsed Scott on primary election day in 2020. Comptroller Bill Henry, who ran unopposed in this year’s primary, was one of Scott’s earliest boosters in 2020 but was mum on his pick for mayor this year.

Scott, Henry, and Cohen will likely serve in City Hall’s three at-large positions concurrently, which may make the 2024 snubs a bit awkward — though their political relationships have a stable base.

The three progressive Democrats served their first concurrent term as council members in 2016 and often supported each other’s legislation. Henry and Cohen supported Scott’s push to become council president after then-Council President Jack Young was automatically elevated to City Hall’s top office, following the resignation of former Mayor Catherine Pugh.

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“Brandon surprised a lot of people with his margin of victory,” Henry said in a statement.

He noted that entering a ”second term with a clear mandate that comes with a majority win“ is something no mayor has accomplished in years.

Three council district races that are still too close to call may shift the legislative body further in Scott’s favor.

Councilman Eric Costello, who endorsed Dixon in the primary, has a razor thin 25-vote lead over political newcomer Zac Blanchard. Scott ally Paris Gray is similarly battling it out with former state Del. Bilal Ali; they are seeking a council seat relinquished by retiring Councilman Kristerfer Burnett. Jermaine Jones, chief of staff of a labor union, leads by 140 votes over incumbent and political moderate Robert Stokes Sr.

Less certain are relationships with explicit snubs.

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City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates endorsed Dixon in early April, a risky move that might have paid off if Scott ended up a lame duck. Instead, the two had weeks of public beef that the men now say has been resolved, and Dixon lost the primary.

The political rivalry is clear. Bates twice has had the highest approval ratings in Baltimore Banner/Goucher College Poll surveys of city residents; Scott just won reelection with a majority of support — at least until more mail ballots are counted Thursday.

The mayor’s and state’s attorney’s policies greatly affect and inform each other. Bates sets basic prosecuting standards; Scott manages the Police Department and other public safety efforts. Both men say their efforts lowered the 2023 homicide rate and have helped reduce this year’s rate even further.

In a statement, Bates congratulated Scott, saying he remains committed to working with the mayor to create a safer city for all to live, work and thrive in.

“As we collaborate with Mayor Scott to continue driving down violent crime rates in Baltimore, we also look to continue building capacity to handle the increased workload,” Bates said.

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‘We’ve invested millions of dollars in training him’

Voters and colleagues of Scott think the mayor is not likely to be abrasive to the politicians who snubbed him.

Mark Anthony Thomas, president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said Scott’s young, casual demeanor differs from many of the city’s longtime establishment politicians, making him a “misfit” in some of Baltimore’s stodgier political corners.

But that identity can also be a “superpower,” Thomas contended. He believes the 40-year-old mayor learned to lean into his personality and build alliances in circles beyond his typical base, like the business and faith communities, helping him to turn a corner in the last year.

“There’s a way that you learn to use those things to your advantage,” Thomas said. “Only recently do I think he’s become good at that.”

Jim Shea formerly served as city solicitor under Scott and ran on an unsuccessful gubernatorial ticket with the then-councilman in the 2018 Democratic primary.

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The mayor is willing to put his head down work to build successful policies, which doesn’t happen overnight, Shea said. That’s difficult in today’s world, where everyone “wants everything done yesterday,” the attorney added.

He thinks the mayor will continue to bring balance and thoughtfulness to relationships and strategies during a second term.

Scott’s closing message was asking voters to give him a chance to finish the work, including reducing homicides in the city. Implicit in his decisive victory is an expectation he’ll deliver more in a second term.

Steven E. Snyder of Lauraville cast his ballot for Scott during early voting. He felt that Scott’s progress wasn’t worth the trade-offs of bringing a new administration up to speed, even one led by a former mayor.

“As taxpayers, we invested millions of dollars in training him [Scott] and his administration,” said the retiree, referring to the City Hall salaries of Scott and his top aides over the last 3 ½ years.

“There were only two people who are going to be the next mayor, and I know I prefer Scott,” he said earlier this month at a housing policy forum where Scott and Dixon spoke.

Baltimore Banner Adam Willis contributed to this report.

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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