Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Tuesday that she is running for reelection, setting up a rematch of the 2018 Democratic primary under the backdrop of her federal indictment.
Mosby’s campaign unveiled her candidacy with a video in which she notes the ups and downs Baltimore has experienced over her current term and lauds residents’ “unwavering resilience.”
“As I make my way around the city, I meet neighbors who tell me how much they love Baltimore and I see their eyes light up as they share their hopes and dreams for our city,” Mosby said. “These interactions not only inspire me but they literally strengthen and sustain me to work harder to bring real reform and meaningful progress to Baltimore, and that’s why I’m running for reelection as State’s Attorney for Baltimore City.”
She did not respond to a request for an interview.
The two-term Democrat did not yet appear as a candidate on the Maryland Board of Elections website Tuesday. Friday is the filing deadline for candidates to enter the primary election. After her trial was postponed until Sept. 19, Mosby’s federal criminal charges won’t be resolved when voters take to the polls July 19.
Mosby has been campaigning behind the scenes for weeks, with videos emerging online last week appearing to depict a campaign kickoff event in front of her Reservoir Hill home in March. That event features prominently in Mosby’s new campaign video.
The Democrat first won the office in an upset over incumbent State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein in 2014, and fended off a pair of challengers to retain her seat in 2018. Months after taking over as state’s attorney the first time, Mosby rose to national prominence by filing charges against the six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries suffered while in police custody. None of the officers were convicted.
Mosby nonetheless developed a strong base of support in Baltimore. She has portrayed herself as a progressive prosecutor and has used her power to dismiss drug possession charges and certain other nonviolent offenses. The state’s attorney regularly touts her efforts to free the wrongfully convicted and willingness to review lengthy prison sentences.
Speaking to a crowd of supporters also pictured in the video, she jabbed the media for highlighting that her campaign website and social media pages had been taken offline in February. About a month later, while Mosby remained coy about her plans to run, the page returned with a link for donations and a bold-type statement telling visitors to “stay tuned.”
By Tuesday, the website featured a new look and a new URL, shesbuiltforthis.com, which draws from comments she made with a defiant tone at a news conference the day after she was federally indicted on perjury and false statement charges: “I’m built for this,” she told reporters outside the State’s Attorney’s Office on Jan. 14. The new domain name was purchased in February, online records show.
Indeed, her bid for reelection could be defined by her criminal case. Federal prosecutors have accused her of committing perjury when she applied for early withdrawals from her city retirement savings under the guise of having suffered financially from the coronavirus pandemic. She is also charged with making false statements on loan applications to buy a pair of properties in Florida.
Mosby pleaded not guilty and maintains her innocence. Much of her defense to date has targeted federal prosecutors, claiming the indictment is a result of animosity from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors responded by saying Mosby “invented a tale of victimhood” to distract from her charges.
It comes as no surprise to political observers that she’s running for reelection. Over the past months, she’s used public appearances to bring attention to her record in office the past seven-plus years.
Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore’s School of Public Affairs, said Mosby wields the significant advantage of being an incumbent, but that persistent violent crime could lead voters to look for a change at the polls. Also, he said, the impact of her indictment remains to be determined.
“Under those situations, it will be a stronger race,” Hartley said.
Originally scheduled for May 2, Mosby’s trial on perjury and fraud charges was postponed by a federal judge last week after she walked back her demands to be tried within 70 days so as not to interfere with her bid for reelection. She’s now slated to stand trial Sept. 19, leaving registered Democrats in Baltimore to choose a state’s attorney candidate to advance to the November general election without knowing the outcome of Mosby’s case.
Mosby faces familiar challengers in defense attorney Ivan Bates and career prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah. They ran against her in the 2018 Democratic primary. Mosby won comfortably a second term with almost 50% of the vote, while Bates and Vignarajah split the remaining ballots that year.
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Vignarajah told The Baltimore Sun that Mosby is “doing a disservice” to Baltimore by asking to postpone her trial and running for reelection because it forces voters to make a decision without knowing whether she’ll be eligible to hold the office after her trial. Vignarajah said Mosby has proved she can’t juggle her federal defense and helming the city prosecutors’ office, contending that she hasn’t done enough to stem violent crime.
“The verdict in her federal case will come soon enough but the verdict on her performance as state’s attorney is already in,” Vignarajah said.
Bates, meanwhile, said he’s “completely focused” on tackling crime in Baltimore, saying that he’s “running to build a safer Baltimore.”
“Our longest-standing residents and older adults deserve to feel safe in the city they built and I have the backing of citywide leaders to restore accountability, leadership, and experience to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office,” Bates said in a statement.
In the video, Mosby touts her efforts to reform the city’s criminal justice system to ensure “one standard of justice,” while saying she holds violent repeat offenders accountable. The footage features a mock-up Baltimore Sun front page with headlines that mention Mosby or highlight a conviction secured by her office. She professes her love for Baltimore over the song “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West.
“Baltimore, we’ve come a long way together, and the best is yet to come. Why? Because we’re built for this,” Mosby said.
As of Wednesday morning, the video was unavailable because of a copyright claim.