Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti is an ambitious politician who rises from a city council seat to the office of mayor. While many think that former Baltimore mayor and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is the inspiration for Carcetti, series creator David Simon has stated that while O'Malley was "one of several inspirations" for the character, other aspects of the character came from local politicians "whose names you wouldn’t even know."
Tommy Carcetti first appeared as a Baltimore Councilman and Chairman of the Council Subcommittee for Public Safety in Season Three. Carcetti is a father and husband, although he is sometimes unfaithful to his wife, Jen. As a councilman, he had a close professional and personal tie to Tony Gray. Carcetti is idealistic and ambitious. He has the backing of Baltimore's powerful first district Democrats. Carcetti aims to effect real change and hopes to improve the city of Baltimore. He has a strong ambition to become mayor and has a plan to unseat the black American incumbent Clarence Royce.
His Democratic Party political connections gave him a sympathetic contact in the Baltimore Police Department, Major Stan Valchek. Carcetti manipulates Acting Commissioner Burrell into working with him using his power as chairman and his connection to Valchek. Carcetti suggests that Burrell provide him with inside information about Mayor Royce's decision-making. In exchange, Carcetti would use the subcommittee to relieve pressure on Burrell's department and provide political capital, funding, and equipment. Burrell is initially resistant but agrees to Carcetti's plan when he increases the pressure applied through his subcommittee.
Carcetti becomes further disillusioned with Royce when he approaches him with a plan to implement witness protection in Baltimore. Carcetti has worked with State Delegate Odell Watkins to secure funding for the scheme. Royce promises to consider it but quickly disregards Carcetti's concern.
Carcetti is an old college friend of Washington political consultant Theresa D'Agostino. He pursues her to act as his campaign strategist in his planned campaign against Royce. Carcetti learns that Gray also plans to run and encourages him to do so. Using Gray's campaign as evidence that the African-American voter base will be split, Carcetti convinces D'Agostino to act as his campaign manager. D'Agostino tells him that increasing support for Gray's campaign will improve his own chance of winning. Carcetti regrets abusing his friend's trust but decides to follow D'Agostino's strategy regardless.
Commissioner Burrell then summons Carcetti when the department learns of Major Colvin's drug-tolerant zones in West Baltimore. Mayor Royce refuses to allow the department to immediately shut it down, and Burrell suspects he is doing so to put the BPD in the "guillotine." Burrell decides that the press should be made aware of the situation to get the department back on track, and he feeds Carcetti the information to spin the blame back on city hall for the cause of the drug-tolerant zones. At D'Agostino's suggestion, he approaches Colvin for his side of the story. Colvin has Carcetti tour the area where he sees safe neighborhoods, real police work being done (felony church burglary arrests among other cases), and a happier and more vibrant community. After showing Carcetti these areas, Colvin shows him "Hamsterdam" where he witnesses open-air drug dealing. Carcetti is disgusted with the rampant drug trade in the areas themselves but sees the impact that isolating the trade has had on the rest of the district. Carcetti breaks the story to the media and with Tony Gray uses it against Royce. At the next city council meeting, Carcetti reveals that he has an interest in running for mayor through his speech pertaining to the drug-sanctioned areas. He claims that the city has neglected areas like West Baltimore, causing them to become more dangerous and decayed and that change is more important than who takes blame for the drug legalization. Through this, Gray realizes Carcetti is running for Mayor and when he publicly announces, Gray ends their alliance and friendship.
In season four, Carcetti's campaign is well underway. He hires Norman Wilson as his deputy campaign manager. Wilson oversees the practicalities of organizing Carcetti's schedule and keeps him working non-stop. D'Agostino is insistent that Carcetti work on his own fundraising for the campaign and he greatly resents the task.
When early polls show results that are not what Carcetti had hoped for, he loses interest in the campaign, believing that he has already lost because of his race. He continues to make his campaign stops at the urging of Wilson but begins to refocus his attention on his family.
Carcetti is disinterested in debate preparation but plans to perform well anyway. He believes he can beat Royce in the debate but will still lose the election. Carcetti's debate answers are invigorated when he learns from Major Valchek that a state's witness has been murdered. Carcetti uses this inside information and his previous request for a witness protection scheme to ambush Mayor Royce in the debate to great effect. His confidence restored, he hits the trail with renewed vigor. Carcetti then gets more help from State Delegate Watkins when he breaks his alliance with Mayor Royce. Carcetti convinces Watkins to join his ticket and, with this alliance, he defeats Royce in a close but decisive primary election. With 82% of the vote, Carcetti goes on to defeat the Republican nominee Crawford in the general election.
As mayor-elect, Carcetti immediately makes changes before he is inaugurated. He gives Wilson a job as his chief assistant and advisor (a position matching that of Coleman Parker in Royce's circle) and then, with the city political officials, decides that it would be best to make changes in the police department by replacing Ervin Burrell as commissioner. Watkins advises Carcetti that it would be an unwise move for a Caucasian mayor to fire an African-American police commissioner in a majority African-American city. Carcetti plans to attract highly qualified candidates from outside of Baltimore with a salary increase while asking Burrell to resign at Wilson's suggestion.
Burrell realizes why Carcetti cannot fire him immediately, refusing to quietly leave the department. Burrell forms an alliance with City Council President [[Nerese Campbell]] and corrupt State Senator Clay Davis. Burrell continues to hold the support of a group of ministers with great political influence in the African-American community. Campbell was primed to replace Royce as Mayor when his term ended but Carcetti upset their plans by unseating Royce, drawing Campbell's enmity. Campbell opposes Carcetti's efforts to authorize a pay increase for the commissioner position. Burrell orders an increase in arrest rates (targeting simple misdemeanors) at Davis' suggestion, hoping to prove that the department is functioning well under his leadership.
Carcetti is frustrated when his plans to replace Burrell are thwarted. Carcetti restricts Burrell's authority and insists that he clear his order through Deputy Commissioner William Rawls. Rawls convinces Carcetti that he wants to reform the department but remains unaware that Carcetti feels unable to promote him because of his race.
Major Cedric Daniels, a politically neutral African-American commander, impresses Carcetti with an interest in quality felony arrests rather than meeting statistical quotas. Carcetti offers Daniels a promotion to Criminal Investigations Division colonel. Through Daniels, Carcetti learns of the arrest hike and orders that the department reform its approach to prioritize quality felony cases over fulfilling statistical quotas. As Carcetti begins to groom Daniels for the commissioner post, Davis and Campbell remain opposed to Burrell's termination. Davis suggests that Campbell convince the council to approve a $25,000 increase in the commissioners salary. Burrell and Davis hope this will convince Carcetti that he has Campbell's support but prevent others from seeking Burrell's job.
Carcetti begins to plan a run for Governor of Maryland. Carcetti attempts to mollify Campbell with the possibility of her taking over as Mayor part-way through his term should he become Governor. Carcetti is pressed with issues pertaining to possible re-development and the opening of casinos to create revenue for the city. The newly elected State Attorney Rupert Bond opposes the casino development.
Carcetti's plans for the police department are derailed when he learns that the city schools are facing a $52 million budget deficit. Campbell suggests he appeal to the Governor to bail out the schools. Carcetti and Wilson travel to Annapolis where they are forced to endure a long wait for the Governor to end a phone conference. The Governor offers the funds but attaches a condition -- that Carcetti will face public humiliation at a press conference accepting the Governor's aid. Carcetti rejects the offer as it would hurt his campaign against the Governor. Wilson is disappointed by Carcetti's decision to put his political ambitions ahead of the needs of the city. Carcetti justifies his decision by claiming that he will be better placed to help the city schools as Governor.
Carcetti deals with a brutality complaint from the politically influential African-American ministers against Sergeant Thomas "Herc" Hauk. At Wilson and Rawls' suggestion, Carcetti decides that Daniels, a former commander of Hauk, should decide the punishment as a means of appeasing the ministers. Daniels decides that a reprimand is sufficient. Burrell approaches Carcetti to suggest that a more rigorous review of Hauk is needed to appease the ministers. Burrell is finally able to prove his usefulness by exploiting his political intellect but Carcetti continues to consult Daniels on policing strategy.
Carcetti's decision to reject the Governor's hand-out leaves him with intractable budget problems throughout his first year as Mayor. He is forced to cut spending in other areas in order to plug the school budget deficit and is unable to keep his promises to reform the police department. Despite the problems facing the city Carcetti remains focused on running for Governor two years into his term.
He meets with Commissioner Ervin Burrell and Deputy Commissioner William Rawls to discuss the police departments problems and is now primarily concerned with their crime statistics despite his prior decision to discourage stat based policing. Morale in the department is at a low because Carcetti is witholding payment of overtime. The commissioners convince Carcetti to lift a cap on secondary employment for officers in order to improve their morale. Carcetti's new chief of staff, Michael Steintorf, has replaced Norman Wilson as his primary advisor. Carcetti faces criticism from Wilson for his decision to leave the hand out from the governor but still seeks his counsel. Carcetti meets with the Maryland District US Attorney to discuss federal assistance for the vacant murders case. The US Attorney is a Republican and desires federal handling of the Clay Davis corruption investigation. Carcetti refuses to order the State's Attorney, Rupert Bond, to send the case federal because he is worried it will be used to discredit the Baltimore democratic party.
Carcetti continues to plan his run for Governor and manages to alienate State Delegate Odell Watkins with his lack of attention to his role as Mayor. One issue Carcetti has to consider is who to back to replace him. The major candidates are Bond, whose profile is rising, and city council president Nerese Campbell. Campbell is becoming a less attractive choice because of a scandal linking her to corruption but she mainatains strong ties to the politically influential ministers. Another factor is finding an issue where the governor is vulnerable to campaign upon. Deputy commissioner Stanislaus Valchek leaks police department statistics to Carcetti that show a rising crime rate. When Commissioner Burrell delivers manipulated statistics to Carcetti the Mayor finally has the political ammunition he needs to fire Burrell. Carcetti plans to replace Burrell with Cedric Daniels but is worried that he will not be accepted by Campbell and the ministers and that Daniels is inexperienced. He plans to temporarily promote Rawls to acting commissioner while Daniels prepares for the role as Deputy Commissioner of Operations. Carcetti leaks news of the plan to the press via Wilson to test the waters.
Carcetti offers favors to Campbell and the ministers to accept his plans for the police department. Carcetti grants Campbell permission for the demolition of the McCullough homes, which are adjacent to Andy Krawczyk's latest building development. Campbell convinces Burrell to leave office quietly by promising him a lucrative replacement position. Carcetti reluctantly accepts the deal when Campbell hints that Burrell has knowledge of corrupt activity in Daniels' past but Carcetti remains unaware of the specifics. Carcetti officially announces his plans for the department at a press conference.
|Season 3 appearances|
|"Time after Time"||"All Due Respect"||"Dead Soldiers"||"Amsterdam"||"Straight and True"|
|"Homecoming"||"Back Burners"||"Moral Midgetry"||"Slapstick"||"Reformation"|
|"Middle Ground"||"Mission Accomplished"|
|Season 4 appearances|
|"Boys of Summer"||"Soft Eyes"||"Home Rooms"||"Refugees"||"Alliances"|
|"Margin of Error"||"Unto Others"||"Corner Boys"||"Know Your Place"||"Misgivings"|
|"A New Day"||"That's Got His Own"||"Final Grades"|
|Season 5 appearances|
|"More with Less"||"Unconfirmed Reports"||"Not for Attribution"||"Transitions"||"React Quotes"|
|"The Dickensian Aspect"||"Took"||"Clarifications"||"Late Editions"||"–30–"|
- ↑ Five Minutes With: David Simon. campusprogress.org (2006). Retrieved on 2006-11-06.
- ↑ Character profile - Tommy Carcetti. HBO (2006). Retrieved on 2006-09-13.
- ↑ "More with Less". Joe Chappelle, Writ. David Simon (story and teleplay), Ed Burns (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-06. No. 1, season 5.
- ↑ The Wire episode guide - episode 51 More with Less. HBO (2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
- ↑ "Unconfirmed Reports". Ernest Dickerson, Writ. William F. Zorzi (story and teleplay), David Simon (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-13. No. 2, season 5.
- ↑ The Wire episode guide - episode 52 Uncomfirmed Reports. HBO (2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
- ↑ "Not for Attribution". Scott and Joy Kecken, Writ. Chris Collins (story and teleplay), David Simon (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-20. No. 3, season 5.
- ↑ The Wire episode guide - episode 53 Not for Attribution. HBO (2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-22.
- ↑ "Transitions". Dan Attias, Writ. Ed Burns (story and teleplay), David Simon (story). The Wire. HBO. 2008-01-27. No. 4, season 5.