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Former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith, lagging in early returns, concedes mayor’s race

Former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith conceded the mayor’s race after early returns showed him with single-digit support and lagging far behind the leaders in the Democratic primary. On Tuesday, Smith greeted fellow candidate Thiru Vignarajah with an elbow bump at Edmondson- Westside High School.
Former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith conceded the mayor’s race after early returns showed him with single-digit support and lagging far behind the leaders in the Democratic primary. On Tuesday, Smith greeted fellow candidate Thiru Vignarajah with an elbow bump at Edmondson- Westside High School. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

Former Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith conceded the mayor’s race Wednesday, a day after early returns showed him with single-digit support and lagging behind the rest of the leaders in the Democratic primary.

Smith wrote in his concession letter that after a long campaign, he was going to go fishing and eat some crabs.

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While an unknown number of votes remain uncounted, initial returns showed Smith in a distant sixth place so far. He had won about 6% of the Democratic vote for mayor, as of returns available Wednesday. That included ballots mailed in ahead of primary day and some of the ballots cast in person Tuesday.

Some voters said Smith appealed to them because of his personal story and focus on rooting out violent crime.

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He launched his campaign in the same Upton block where his younger brother, Dion, was killed in 2017.

Many residents recalled his deep voice coming to them from their TV screens, where as the police spokesman, he frequently addressed news cameras at crime scenes and condemned senseless violence.

But his campaign failed to attract big-dollar donors, and he struggled to reach residents as the coronavirus pandemic limited candidates’ abilities to knock doors and attend in-person forums.

“Despite the limited resources, we were able to run an effective campaign through the midst of a global pandemic and historic quarantine/stay-at-home order,” he wrote in his concession letter.

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Smith wrote that he hoped to share his ideas with whoever is elected mayor.

Initial returns show former Mayor Sheila Dixon leading the pack with 30% of the vote counted so far, followed by City Council President Brandon Scott with 25% and former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller with 17%.

Former state Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah had about 12% of all votes counted so far, while incumbent Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young had 7%.

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