Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said today that she will not seek re-election next year, nearly five months after the city erupted in rioting following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Rawlings-Blake made the announcement at a news conference called only 90 minutes earlier, a move that comes just days after officials said the city would pay Gray's family $6.4 million to settle civil claims over his spinal injury. The mayor said she believes she could have won re-election, pointing to her work on the city's budget and pension system. However, she said, not seeking re-election was the best decision for the city and for her family. Among other things, she said the city needed to get through the trials of the six police officers charged in Gray's death.
"It was a very difficult decision, but I knew I needed to spend time focused on the city's future, not my own," she said. When asked if she had effectively made herself a lame duck, Rawlings-Blake said that was not the case and that she was now focused on working for the city. She said she did not want every decision she made over the next 15 months to be evaluated in the context of a political campaign. "I'm focused right now on governing, rather than campaigning for mayor at this critical time in our history," she said. The Baltimore Sun quotes sources who say Rawlings-Blake felt it would be wrong to ask donors for money as the city was still dealing with the aftermath of the Gray riots. (The case of the officers involved in the Gray case will remain in Baltimore.)