Lawsuit Contesting Vignarajah’s Eligibility To Run Dismissed Due to Timeliness

Lawsuit Contesting Vignarajah’s Eligibility To Run Dismissed Due to Timeliness

Judge ruled the case against the Democratic gubernatorial candidate wasn't filed before a state law-mandated deadline

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Krishanti Vignarajah, center

via @KrishforMD on Twitter

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to have Democratic gubernatorial candidate Krishanti Vignarajah’s name removed from the June 26 primary ballot because of questions surrounding her eligibility to run.

Judge Alison L. Asti, in a two-paragraph order, dismissed the request for a declaratory judgment, saying the lawsuit hadn’t been filed in the proper timeframe.

The judge specifically cited a portion of Maryland election law that says a registered voter must challenge a candidate’s eligibility to run for an office within nine days of the candidate filing to run.

Vignarajah formally filed to run for governor in February, which put the lawsuit that was filed June 5 well outside of the nine-day window.

The lawsuit was brought by Howard County resident Douglas Horn. Bethesda Beat was unable to reach his attorney, Clarissa Jimenez, on Wednesday morning.

Vignarajah’s campaign has been dogged by questions about her eligibility after Bethesda Beat first reported she had voted in elections in Washington, D.C., from 2010 to 2014. During that time, she worked for the State Department and as an adviser for Michelle Obama. Maryland law requires a gubernatorial candidate to have been a registered voter and resident in the state for five years before an election. The Washington Post also reported that Vignarajah used a D.C. address as her residence on her 2016 application for a Maryland marriage license.

The judge did not weigh in on these issues and the ruling instead focused on the timeliness. The case is now closed.

Vignarajah, the only woman still running for governor, has maintained since launching her campaign in August that she is eligible to run for the office.

On Tuesday evening, her campaign hailed the court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit in a press release that noted “the time to litigate this question has long since past. [sic]”

“It’s not a surprise that the establishment and political operatives are trying desperately to stop women of color from disrupting the old boys club in Maryland, but as a lifelong Marylander, I’ll continue fighting to support our schools, curb violent crime, and build a more inclusive economy for our state,” Vignarajah said in a statement.

Former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin, the only other female gubernatorial candidate, dropped out of the race Wednesday and is now backing Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker for governor. Baker and former NAACP President Ben Jealous were tied for the lead in a recent Baltimore Sun Democratic primary poll. Other Democrats in the race include state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington), tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and Baltimore attorney James Shea. Ross, Madaleno, Baker and Jealous all chose women as their lieutenant governor running mates.

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