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Why several of the best-known Baltimore mayoral candidates have yet to formally file

Almost a dozen Democrats have filed to run in the primary election for Baltimore’s next mayor, but even that large number doesn’t reflect just how crowded the field is in this deep-blue city.

Several of the best-known candidates have yet to formally submit their paperwork — including Mayor Bernard C. “Jack”, City Council President Brandon Scott and former Mayor Sheila Dixon — ahead of the Jan. 24 deadline. All three have announced their campaigns and are actively fundraising.

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Also among those who have announced their campaigns but not yet filed with the State Board of Elections, as of Wednesday, are former state Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah and former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith.

Perhaps the most prominent Democrat who has submitted her paperwork is state Sen. Mary Washington. This is important for her fundraising efforts because Maryland election code prohibits state lawmakers from soliciting donations during the General Assembly session — unless they’ve filed their candidacy for a local office.

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Some political analysts say there’s no real rhyme or reason for why some candidates file early and others wait until the deadline.

“The only benefit to when you file is getting a media hit and small fundraising hit,” said Sophia Silbergeld, a director at Baltimore-based Adeo Advocacy.

Mileah Kromer, director of Goucher College’s Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, said that in terms of the public’s understanding of the race, a campaign announcement means that a candidate is in.

“Once you have your formal roll-out and are holding fundraisers and campaigning, this is just paperwork,” she said.

Myles Handy, Young’s campaign spokesman, said it’s no secret the mayor is running to keep his seat in 2020.

“He has a busy schedule and fitting things in is difficult," he said, when asked when Young had not formally filed yet.

Marvin James, Scott’s campaign spokesman, said the time between announcing and filing helps build excitement leading up to the primary.

Maggie Gratz, Vignarajah’s chief of staff, said the campaign would formally file soon, building upon their momentum.

Dixon’s campaign manager Kevin Seymore said the former mayor will file in the next few days.

“We showed we were ready to run weeks ago,”he said. The paperwork “is just formalizing that intent.”

When former T. Rowe Price executive Mary Miller announced her candidacy Tuesday, it likely set the Democratic field, though the filing deadline remains about two weeks away.

But until Jan. 24 comes around, anything is possible: In 2016, civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson made a surprise jump into mayoral primary with just minutes to spare.

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