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Baltimore mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah takes out first TV ad with focus on crime

Baltimore mayoral candidate Thiru Vignarajah released his first television spot Friday, part of a $100,000 media buy that promotes his pledge to fight crime in the city.

Vignarajah, a former federal and city prosecutor, will air his ads starting Friday, with more than 500 spots to be broadcast over the next month on cable and network TV, according to a news release.

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The 30-second spot blends his life story — he’s the son of two city schoolteachers and went from the public school system to Yale — with that of his career. As a former deputy attorney general of Maryland, Vignarajah says in the ad that he’s “devoted my life to fighting crime."

“Right now, the criminals are winning," he says. “From violent crime and corruption to broken schools and broken promises, the city we love is in crisis.”

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The ad, he said in an interview, speaks to some of the qualities that set him apart in a crowded field.

“Mine is a Baltimore story and public service is in my DNA,” he said. “We’re also trying to emphasize that mine has been a career devoted to tackling the single biggest challenge facing Baltimore right now: violent crime.”

Vignarajah, a Democrat, recently unveiled his crime plan. After five years of more than 300 homicides, Vignarajah says that if Baltimore elects him mayor, he will get the annual count below 200 or not seek re-election.

His media buy will also include radio, social media and billboards across Baltimore.

Vignarajah is part of a race that includes Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, City Council President Brandon Scott, State Sen. Mary Washington, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith and businessman Rikki Vaughn, who has also begun buying billboards across the city.

Other Democrats still considering whether to run include former Mayor Sheila Dixon and T. Rowe Price executive Mary Miller.

Vignarajah said he knows that candidates who aren’t career politicians face a challenge with name recognition — something this ad campaign seeks to rectify.

The spot is airing the same week that former Mayor Catherine Pugh pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and tax evasion.

“It’s so clear,” Vignarajah said, “that the city needs a prosecutor, not another politician.”

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