Baltimore State’s attorney candidate Roya Hanna announced Tuesday that she’s dropping out of the Democratic primary and running as an independent in the general election.
A defense attorney and former prosecutor, Hanna said party affiliation hinders elected prosecutors and declared that she’s running as an independent because “the business of prosecution is too important for politics.”
“Under my administration, justice will be for all and public safety will be my everything,” Hanna said at a news conference. “We have to use creative solutions to crime and creativity and solutions are not the purview of any one political party or group.”
Her decision creates a one-on-one race for the Democratic primary in deep-blue Baltimore between defense attorney Ivan Bates and incumbent State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and shakes up an already atypical election that may be defined by the federal charges against Mosby. Hanna’s absence also could open the door for another candidate to enter the race.
The June primary is the second time Bates is challenging Mosby, and he could fair better this time around with Hanna out of the race, said Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs.
Former deputy attorney general Thiru Vignarajah ran against Mosby and Bates in the 2018 Democratic primary. Mosby won handily with roughly 49% of the vote that primary, while about 28% of ballots were cast for Bates and 22.5% for Vignarajah.
“Several challengers can essentially dilute the non-Mosby vote,” Hartley said. “Now it’s a clear one-on-one race.”
Mosby still has not officially entered her name into the race; only Bates and Hanna had filed as of Tuesday, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
In January, Vignarajah said he had no plans to enter the race. But Vignarajah, who has kept himself in the public eye, told The Sun in an interview Friday he’s keeping his options open.
“This is an unprecedented situation where the elected State’s attorney may be constitutionally ineligible to serve and I haven’t ruled anything out,” he said.
Bates outraised Mosby by more than $43,000 in the year leading up to the election. Hanna’s fundraising efforts brought in $39,000, roughly $150,000 less than Mosby. Both challengers have focused their campaigns on bringing down crime and battling prosecutor attrition in the State’s attorney’s office.
Mosby’s campaign website and social media accounts have been disabled for about a month and her few public comments over that time have focused on her indictment.
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Made public Jan. 13, the federal indictment charged Mosby with two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements on loan applications to buy a pair of properties in Florida. Mosby maintains she is innocent and has accused federal prosecutors of pursuing the case because they harbor animosity toward her. A trial is set for May 2.
Candidates have until March 22 to file for the election.
Hartley said independents generally haven’t faired well in Baltimore.
“In our city, the Democrat usually wins the general election,” he said. “It’s because of Democrat registration totals, party loyalty, strong party preference. It’s an uphill battle for a non-Democrat to win a citywide race in the City of Baltimore.”
But it remains to be seen how Mosby’s case plays out and influences voters.
“If there’s something that happens in this indictment that really challenges voter trust, then Hanna could portray herself as an alternative,” Hartley said.
Defense attorney Russell A. Neverdon Sr. tried to run for Baltimore State’s attorney as an independent in the 2014 election. He failed to get enough signatures to place his name on the ballot before earning votes as a write-in candidate. Mosby upset incumbent Gregg Bernstein in that primary and cruised to victory in the general election.