Lawsuit Filed Against Vignarajah Over Eligibility To Run For Governor

Lawsuit Filed Against Vignarajah Over Eligibility To Run For Governor

The legal challenge faces an obstacle in its timeliness

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Krishanti Vignarajah

Campaign photo

A Baltimore County resident is challenging Democrat Krishanti Vignarajah’s eligibility to run for governor in a lawsuit that was filed earlier this week in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

Douglas Horn is asking a judge for a declaratory judgment ruling that the Gaithersburg resident is ineligible to run for governor due to her previous votes cast in Washington, D.C., elections as recently as 2014 and her affirmation in a 2016 marriage license application that she is a D.C. resident.

The Maryland Constitution requires a candidate for governor to have been a resident and registered voter in the state five years before an election.

Vignarajah has noted her Maryland voter registration remained active and that despite having an apartment in D.C., she also maintained her Maryland residency. She has said she only used the D.C. apartment as a “crash pad” while working as an adviser for Michelle Obama and for the State Department.

Horn’s petition, filed by Glen Burnie attorney Clarissa Jimenez, also lists the Maryland Board of Elections as a defendant. It alleges the board failed to verify whether Vignarajah was eligible before placing her name on the June 26 Democratic primary ballot.

The petition says it would be a disservice to voters “to have them vote for a candidate, only to later determine that said candidate does not meet the requirements to hold the office, therefore it is in the best interests of justice for this court to enter a declaratory judgment on whether Defendant Vignarajah meets the requirements to run for Maryland governor in the upcoming election.”

Jimenez did not respond to a request from Bethesda Beat to comment on the petition. She told The Washington Post that the lawsuit has a “few obstacles.”

One of those obstacles is likely to be timeliness. Maryland law permits a resident in the state to file a special petition within nine days after a candidate files a certificate of candidacy to run for public office, according to a filing from the Maryland Attorney General’s office in a case Vignarajah brought regarding her eligibility that she later dropped. Vignarajah formally filed to run for governor in February—meaning that nine-day window has passed.

Bethesda Beat first reported potential issues with Vignarajah’s eligibility to run for governor in August.

The lawsuit also asks the state to reprint the gubernatorial ballots without Vignarajah’s name on it. However, a state judge has already ruled that the ballots would not have to be reprinted for a gubernatorial candidate, former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin. Ervin attempted to force the state to reprint the ballots so her name could appear on them, rather than that of her former running mate Kevin Kamenetz, who died suddenly last month.

Vignarajah’s campaign spokeswoman, Aryn Frazier, told the Post in an email in response to the lawsuit that “Sadly, it’s no surprise that the only two candidates in this race who have had their ballot access questioned by political operatives are the two women of color.”

Ervin and Vignarajah are running against Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, Baltimore attorney James Shea and state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington) in the June 26 Democratic primary.

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