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‘Lou Catelli’ makes Baltimore mayoral bid official

Will Bauer, also known as "Lou Catelli," says his offbeat approach to life shouldn't detract from what he says is a serious candidacy for Baltimore mayor. (Adam Bednar)

Will Bauer, also known as “Lou Catelli,” says his offbeat approach to life shouldn’t detract from what he says is a serious candidacy for Baltimore mayor. (Adam Bednar)

Days after federal agents in blue jackets emblazoned with FBI and IRS searched Baltimore’s City Hall, a man in very short red OP shorts stood across from the building and said he’s serious about being the next mayor

Will Bauer, a/k/a “Lou Catteli,” known for riding a tricycle around Hampden, for his omnipresent large sunglasses and for wearing a jacket during the winter with fur designed to make him look like The Star Wars character Chewbacca, insisted his campaign for mayor is not a joke.

“This is a real campaign,” Bauer, who officially filed to run on Monday, said.

Defining what Bauer does for a living remains tricky. He describes himself as a “fixer,” primarily for Baltimore’s small businesses community. Need help obtaining a liquor license? Catelli can help guide you through the process. Problems with a permit to add on to a kitchen? Yeah, he can get that done too.

The Catteli moniker? It’s an inside joke about a brand of salami.

In that role as a sherpa through municipal government, Bauer, who is running in the Democratic primary, does understand how city government works. A scion of the DiPasquale family, owners of the eponymous historic Italian market, he has deep ties to the city.

He’s also been known to fix city streets in Hampden when the city takes too long. Several years ago, after the city ripped up the pavement on West 36th Street, and failed to repaint the stripes, Bauer, armed with spray paint, a line painter and a bottle of Sambucca, repainted the lines, much to the chagrin of the Department of Transportation.

Despite his knowledge of and attachment to the city Bauer faces an uphill struggle to be mayor, and a distinct wardrobe won’t be enough. DeRay Mckesson, the Black Lives Matter activist known for his trademark blue Patagonia vest, ran in 2016 and earned 2.6 percent of the vote.

Bauer’s plan to be elected Baltimore’s next executive mixes idealism, practicality and even glimpses of professionalism.

He vows not to fundraise and instead said he will urge supporters to make donations to civic organizations.

While he’s aware the last three mayors all spent in excess of $2.5 million to win the Democratic primary, he’s banking on door-knocking, social media and appearances at community meetings to be enough to win.

He’s a white man running for the top office in a city whose electorate overwhelmingly skews toward older African-American women, increasingly liberal and distrustful of business. David Warnock, a wealthy white businessman, who spent significant money on television ads in the 2016 primary, earned 8.1 percent of the vote.

There’s also flashes that Bauer understands what’s ahead of him and that he’s pragmatic enough not to be completely written off.

Bauer has been plotting his campaign for nearly a year. At his birthday celebration and 10-year anniversary in Hampden party last June, Bauer said he was running for mayor. His decision to jump in was something he’s been considering for a while and not, he said, a knee-jerk reaction to Mayor Catherine Pugh’s legal woes.

He’s also well aware of politics realities in the city. While Bauer’s a self-described libertarian he’s savvy enough to know launching a third-party bid is a nonstarter.

“I’m extremely libertarian, but that’s the primary we’re given here. I’m a realist on that level, too,” Bauer said.

Until Monday, exactly how serious Bauer was about running for mayor was questionable. Nearly a year after announcing he would run, which was covered by various city news outlets, he proved he’s at least committed enough to file.

He’s just not ready to call himself serious.

“The word serious is probably a little tricky to use because I’m a happy fellow. I’m not going to be mister dour face,” he said.

 


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