Sheila Dixon, the winner of the previous mayoral election, was forced from office following a 2010 conviction. Therefore, city council president Stephanie Rawlings-Blake became mayor for the final year of what had been Dixon's term, and subsequently ran for election to a full term. Other candidates for the Democratic nomination included state senator Catherine E. Pugh; Otis Rolley, a former administrator in city government, Frank M. Conaway, Sr., the only person, other than Rawlings-Blake, in the race to have won a citywide election, and former councilman Jody Landers
All other Baltimore city officers were also up for election simultaneously with the mayor, including the fourteen members of the Baltimore City Council (elected from single-member districts) and the City Council President and City Comptroller (both elected citywide). Incumbent comptroller Joan Pratt ran unopposed in both the Democratic primary and the general election.