Thiru Vignarajah, a former prosecutor and top official in the state attorney general’s office, said Wednesday in a statement that he will run as a Democrat to become the next mayor of Baltimore.
Vignarajah’s announcement comes at a time of deep political uncertainty in the city.
Mayor Catherine Pugh has taken a leave of absence to recover from pneumonia amid growing controversy over sales of her “Healthy Holly” children’s books. She had previously said she intended to seek reelection and had begun fundraising. But her campaign chairman has not responded to questions about her current plans.
Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young is filling in as acting mayor but has said he won’t run for the job in next April’s Democratic primary.
Vignarajah challenged state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby in last year’s Democratic primary, finishing third. He said his mayoral campaign will focus on battling crime and corruption.
“What we have endured in Baltimore is heartbreaking and humiliating,” Vignarjah said. “From our street corners to City Hall, I am running to put an end to crime and corruption.”
[ Rodricks: Vignarajah comes into the 2020 mayor's race wisely focused on crime and corruption ]
“We all know Baltimore is a city of resilience and unfilled promise. With ideas and integrity, we can forge the Baltimore our parents dreamed of, the city we have promised to our children, a city of safe streets, good jobs, and great schools, no matter where you live or who you are.”
Vignarajah has worked as a local and federal prosecutor and was Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s deputy. He’s currently a partner at the law firm DLA Piper. He is known nationally for defending Maryland in challenges that prisoner Adnan Syed has filed to his murder conviction — a case made famous by the “Serial” podcast.
Vignarajah ended his state’s attorney campaign with $1,700 in the bank, according to an August campaign finance filing. He has raised less than $1,000 since then, according to a disclosure filed in January.
City Councilman Brandon Scott and former mayor Sheila Dixon have both said they are considering running for mayor. The “unofficial mayor of Hampden” Will Bauer, better known as his alias Lou Catelli, said in June that he planned to run, as well.