Former Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith would have to move to the city before running for mayor

Chief T.J. Smith, the lead Baltimore Police spokesman, has announced his resignation, effective immediately. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)

Former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith hasn’t said exactly what his plans are since abruptly leaving the department last week, but it could involve house hunting.

Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, Smith’s former boss who was fired by Mayor Catherine E. Pugh in January, has said Smith should try his hand at politics and run for mayor in the 2020 election.


But before Smith could run for any political office in Baltimore, the current Baltimore County resident would have to move.

To run for mayor, candidates must be 25 years old and be “a resident and qualified voter of Baltimore City for at least 1 year preceding the election,” according to the state board of elections. That requirement is also true if he were to run for city council, city council president, or comptroller. The next city primary is set for April 28, 2020 and the general election is Nov. 3, 2020.

After former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called on him to run for mayor, former police spokesman T.J. Smith says, "I’m going to support our current administration. My full support is behind Mayor Catherine Pugh."

Smith, 41, said he’s been planning for some time to buy a home in Northwest Baltimore, where he grew up and still has family.

When asked if he were considering running for office in Baltimore, he said, “I’m listening to all the citizens of Baltimore.”

“I’m honored,” that people are considering him for office, he said, adding that he wants to remain involved in the city.

Smith said the response from residents shows that many appreciated his work for the police department, where he said he gave them “real talk” during some of the department’s most trying times.

T.J. Smith, the Baltimore Police Department’s chief spokesman and most consistent public face since 2015, whose local roots and empathetic outrage over city violence often endeared him to a public otherwise distrustful of the agency, has resigned, he confirmed to The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday.

“T.J. exudes all of the personal characteristics of a leader. The thing he’d do most for Baltimore would be to pull Baltimore together,” Davis said previously about his endorsement, which he made on the CW Baltimore’s “Square Off” show on Sunday.

“I’m enjoying my next phase, whatever that might be,” Smith said Sunday. “I’m going to support our current administration. My full support is behind Mayor Catherine Pugh. ... If she succeeds, we all succeed.”


He said that he will “probably not” stay in law enforcement. For now, he said, he’s planning to relax through the holidays, spending time with his son.

Residency requirements have become contentious in city campaigns. During the recent primary for the Baltimore state’s attorney’s race, a judge threw out separate lawsuits against candidates Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah that alleged the candidates did not live in Baltimore. State law requires a candidate for state’s attorney to have lived two continuous years in the city before an election.