Tag Archives: Krish Vignarajah

Vignarajah’s Farcical Claims

Can we please stop pretending that Krish Viganarajah comes close to meeting the legal requirements to run for governor?

Candidates for governor of Maryland have to be registered in the State for five years. Yesterday, the Washington Post published three legal documents in which Krish Vignarajah claimed D.C. residency as recently as 2014 and 2016.

In response to a query from the D.C. Board of Elections, Vignarajah signed her name to confirm that she is a D.C. resident and should be able to vote there rather than Maryland:

The real kicker is in the first paragraph, which makes clear that they are asking her to confirm that she resides and should be registered in D.C. even though she is listed on the registry in Maryland. This form makes explicit that she intentionally abandoned her Maryland residency and registration.

Vignarajah got married in 2016 in Dorchester County. Even though she now says that she was a Maryland resident and legally registered voter, she listed D.C. as her residence on her Maryland license application:

In other words, even though she got married in Maryland and had a marriage license in our state, she claimed residency elsewhere.

Of course, Vignarajah’s original voter registration application from 2010 also attests to her D.C. residency:

Remember that Vignarajah has only voted in Maryland once in her entire life.

Her response to this evidence is ridiculous:

Maryland is and always has been home. Temporarily residing outside of Maryland, whether it’s for school or work, does not change my permanent residence, as a matter of law or common sense.

I know Vignarajah is a trained attorney but it’s still impressive that she can say this with a straight face. Residing for years in another state or the District changes your permanent residence except under specific legal circumstances (e.g. being a student or in the military). Indeed, common sense wisdom is the exact opposite of her claim.

All the legal experience it takes to file taxes makes this even clearer. Incidentally, Vignarajah petulantly promised to release her taxes if other candidates do so. Rich Madaleno and Jim Shea have released theirs but we’re still waiting for hers, probably because they are yet further evidence of her D.C. residence.

It would be a disaster if Vignarajah won the nomination, as Republicans would challenge her eligibility and likely win:

A Hogan spokesman declined to comment. But other Republicans, including Del. Joe Cluster (Baltimore County), the former state GOP executive director, said someone in the party would surely attempt to challenge Vignarajah if she were the nominee.

“She shouldn’t be able to be on the ballot,” Cluster said. “If I was executive director of the Maryland Republican Party and she was the nominee for the Democrats, I would challenge her running for governor.”

Were such a challenge permitted, the government documents and Vignarajah’s voting history would be “a killer,” said Timothy Maloney, a lawyer and former Democratic state lawmaker who is not supporting anyone in the primary. “It would be almost impossible to overcome.”

Even if she somehow beat the challenge because it was too late to make it, Hogan’s team will make endless hay out of her five minute legal residence.

Krish Vignarajah should resign from the race.

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Gov Candidates Mix It Up on Amazon

I live tweeted @theseventhstate last night’s excellent Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club Forum held at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Candidates for the gubernatorial nomination agreed on many issues. One where they clashed was the merit of state incentives to woo Amazon.

Candidates Opposed to Amazon Incentives

Businessman Jim Shea called Amazon incentives “a really bad idea” and attacked giving $8.5 billion to the richest man in the world along with recruiting business from other state more generally. Moderator Robert McCartney interjected to laughter, “Careful, he’s my boss.”

Krish Vignarajah was also vehemently against the incentives, and attacked Gov. Larry Hogan for moving on this while letting Baltimore kids freeze during the winter, a comparison she also made at the Takoma Park debate. “This is the insanity of our governor.” As in many answers, Vignarajah combined passion on the issue with a sharp argument.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous also opposed Amazon incentives. Consistent with his approach on other issues, he staked out the most left-wing position. Jealous not only agreed with other candidates on the need for diversity provisions, he also wants to see labor agreements.

My take: One follow-up question left unasked of Shea, Vignarajah and Jealous is how one could require diversity, labor or other requirements without incentives. Alternatively, is the implicit choice just to let Amazon go elsewhere? If that is the case, would future Amazon employees be better off located in a place without these protections?

Candidates Supportive of Amazon Incentives

Pointing out that Discovery was about to leave two blocks away, Rich Madaleno called Amazon a “game changing investment.” At two-thirds the size of the state government, it would help diversify our economy away from dependence on the federal government. He explained that Amazon only gets $5.5 billion if they spend $140 billion in salaries in our area. Madaleno is proud the General Assembly passed legislation to make sure companies are held accountable on promised diversity and benefits.

County Executive Rushern Baker was candid that Prince George’s had tried to recruit Amazon, explaining that the idea was to build local businesses around it and gain revenue. At the same time, he criticized the Governor for ignoring building business except the FBI and Amazon. This point foreshadowed Alec Ross’ later contention that Larry Hogan would completely ignore the DC suburbs if reelected.

Alec Ross took a somewhat nuanced position. He said that he would’ve negotiated a different deal but hopes Amazon comes here. He cited his running mate’s business, well-regarded Denizens Brewery located nearby in Silver Spring, as an example of a great small business. Ross said we make it too hard for small business in Maryland, and need to think more about how to make Maryland the place businesses grow and prosper. His campaign tweeted an op-ed that Ross wrote on the topic that nicely gives a chance hear these ideas fleshed out.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he did not submit a bid for Baltimore County because he thought Baltimore City was the best location. Arguing that we need a nominee with a track record of experience, he wants to focus on job skill training to attract businesses and get people jobs.

My take: This is one issue that split the electeds who have had to directly grapple with this issue from first-time candidates (with Ross as somewhat of an exception). Montgomery’s economy sure could use a jump start and Amazon is an unusually big opportunity, so I tend to agree with trying to recruit Amazon. Though not perfect, Maryland’s process was also unusually transparent compared to other jurisdictions and got buy-in from the legislature.

Nevertheless, I understand why opponents don’t like it. Wooing business with money is often a mistake. In particular, football stadiums are a real money loser. I support Del. David Moon’s fine bill to prevent Maryland, Virginia and the District from competing this way.

Note: As I have mentioned repeatedly, I’m a supporter of Rich Madaleno. While it seemed worth mentioning here, I do my best to call them as I see them, and give an honest portrayal of the positions of all candidates here.

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Who Voted – and who Didn’t – in Maryland?

The participation of the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Maryland elections varies widely. The table at the top of the post reveals not just whether but also how each voted since 1994, a period that includes 12 primary and general elections apiece with the number also evenly split between presidential and gubernatorial election years.

Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno

The three officials who currently hold elective office – Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno – have voted in every one of the 24 elections.

Krish Vignarajah

Despite registering to vote in Maryland in 2006, Krish Vignarajah has voted just once in Maryland. In 2016, she voted in the general after skipping the primary. She registered to vote in D.C. in 2010 and participated in four elections there from 2010 through 2014.

In order to remain eligible to run for governor, Vignarajah claims incredibly that she remained a legally registered voter in Maryland. Even as she cast ballots elsewhere and claimed a D.C. address on her voter registration application, she was never purged from the rolls in Maryland.

This presents a series of real problems for Vignarajah. To put it bluntly, if she really lived in Maryland all the time and her D.C. apartment was just a “crash pad” as she now says, why did she fraudulently claim that she lived in D.C. on her 2010 voter application? Alternatively, if she was honest on her application, how can she claim that she has always maintained her Maryland residency?

Additionally, if she was always a Maryland resident, why didn’t she just vote here? She says voting in D.C. was just a matter of convenience because she was so busy at her job working for Michelle Obama. But many other busy people manage to apply for absentee ballots and they’re not all Marshall Scholars who made law review at Yale. Why couldn’t she do the same? It doesn’t exactly exude commitment to the State.

Moreover, how can one be legally registered to vote in two places at the same time? Just because she wasn’t purged from the rolls, as she should have been after she registered in D.C., doesn’t mean that she remained someone who could legally cast a ballot here.

I’ve had personal experience with this issue. When I moved back to Maryland twenty years ago after four years teaching in South Carolina, I discovered I was still on the rolls. I had registered and voted in South Carolina but, until I moved back to Maryland, I didn’t have illusions that I could vote here or was still a resident despite frequent visits.

Vignarajah could advance her residency claim if she would release her tax returns. She already refused to answer where she filed when Tom Sherwood asked on WAMU. As he pointed out, that really answers it anyway. One imagines that Vignarajah would have said that she had filed in Maryland if she had done so.

We’ll get a chance to know for sure when Vignarajah releases her tax returns. Her campaign told the Baltimore Sun that she’d release her returns “if others do.” Jealous, Ross, Shea have said they will, and Madaleno has already done so,. Hopefully, we will know soon if she filed in the District or Maryland or both, assuming that this is not a Trump promise, which is an oxymoron.

Ben Jealous

Unlike Vignarah, Ben Jealous is unquestionably eligible to run. However, he has only voted four times in Maryland since 1994, which surprised me as his online bio certainly gives the appearance that he spent most of his life in Maryland.

His voter participation record suggests otherwise. Jealous first registered to vote in Maryland in 2012. Though he has participated in all general elections, he skipped both the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries. When Jealous casts his ballot in 2018, presumably for himself, it will be the first time that he has ever voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary – something he has in common with Vignarajah!

Either Jealous has been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Jim Shea and Alec Ross

Jim Shea voted in all general elections but missed 5 of the 12 primaries, with four of the five that he missed occurring in presidential election years. None of these four primaries had a hotly contested presidential or senatorial primary.

Alec Ross did not vote in 7 of the 24 elections. Ross took a pass on his first opportunity to vote in 1994, but he would have just moved to Baltimore in the summer before the primary. However, he also missed both the primary and general in his second statewide elections. More recently, Ross skipped the 2010 and 2012 primaries.

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Is Vignarajah Eligible? She Finally Filed and Has a Running Mate, So We’re About to Find Out

Krish Vignarajah at Sunday’s Debate (Photo: Ed Kimmel)

Krish Vignarajah filed the papers to run for governor with only hours to spare. The Baltimore Sun reported earlier today that she is running with Sharon Blake, the former president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, in “the first ever all-women of color ticket.” Though now public knowledge, I cannot seem to find any mention – or nice photo of the ticket to put above this post – on Vignarajah’s website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Vignarajah has made a positive impression at gubernatorial debates and forums based on before and after straw polls, as her Twitter feed understandably reports. My own impression is that she is clearly very sharp and got off the best line at Sunday’s debate, but I would like to see evidence of more in-depth knowledge of state public policy.

Nevertheless, Vignarajah may have had trouble attracting a running mate due to serious questions about whether she is qualified for the ballot. The Maryland Constitution requires that gubernatorial candidates have resided and been registered to vote in Maryland for five years.

Vignarajah has a real problem here, as Bethesda Beat first reported:

Vignarajah, 37, an attorney, first registered to vote in Maryland in 2006 at an address in Catonsville. However, she didn’t vote in the state until the 2016 general election. . .

While her Maryland registration remained active, she registered to vote in D.C. on Sept. 14, 2010, then voted in the city’s primary the same day, according to her D.C. voting history, also obtained by Bethesda Beat.

She listed her address at the time at an apartment building at 1701 16th St. NW in the District.

Her D.C. voting record shows that she also voted in the April 26, 2011, special election, as well as the 2012 and 2014 general elections in the city.

Though she was never purged from being registered in Maryland, Viganarajah was registered and voted in the District in 2014. Two years later, she voted in Maryland for the general but skipped the primary.

This issue has plagued Vignarajah’s campaign from the start, punctuated by her disastrous exchange with Tom Sherwood on “The Maryland Politics Hour” (starts at 4:25) in which her only explanation for why she registered and voted in DC if she was a Maryland resident was convenience, and she also refused to say if she paid income taxes in Maryland.

Vignarajah referred to her D.C. apartment as a “crash pad” and said she “did not live there” after Kojo Nnamdi described the building as “the coolest” in the city, raising the obvious question of how she registered to vote in D.C. if she didn’t have a D.C. residence.

Despite asserting that “I am absolutely eligible to run” and that she made legally certain of it before entering the race, Vignarajah filed a lawsuit demanding that the State Board of Elections confirm her eligibility. Attorney General Brian Frosh opposed the suit. Since she had not yet filed, the issue was not really ripe for consideration – courts don’t do hypotheticals – and she then withdrew the suit.

I imagine some potential running mates would be put off by the excellent prospect of being thrown off the ballot with Viganrajah, thus turning a long shot at the number two slot into the latest joke and a very short campaign.

I imagine we will find out shortly.

Note: As we have pointed out previously, Adam Pagnucco and I are both supporters of Rich Madaleno’s campaign. Nevertheless, as is always the case, our posts remain our own.

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Gubernatorial Debate Moments

I live tweeted last night’s debate in Takoma Park. This post highlights moments that stood out in my mind. During the fast-paced debate, I did my best to capture what candidates actually said, either as quote or a paraphrase, along with provide analysis along with many typos. Rushern Baker skipped the debate.

Alec Ross Goes Extreme on Immigration

A theme for Alec Ross was his effort to stand out as a different kind of candidate, unafraid to criticize Democrats for being insufficiently progressive. He pejoratively stereotyped ICE workers and called for sending out state troopers to fight them if needed to that end:

Ben Jealous Over Credit Claims?

Ben Jealous and I had an exchange on Twitter during the debate regarding his taking credit for the MD DREAM Act’s passage that paralleled Adam Pagnucco’s past critique:

Jealous’s followers certainly agreed with him on Twitter.

Jealous on Corruption and the NRA

Jealous also stood out for his attack on corruption and call for Baltimore Democrat Sen. Nat Oaks to resign:

He also attacked taking NRA money–very popular based on the retweets:

The problem with Jealous’s severe attacks on any Democrat who takes money from the NRA is that he co-chaired Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The current anti-gun moment is not ideal for Sanders, who originally won election to Congress with heavy NRA support. While Sanders is no longer the pal of the NRA, he has a past of opposing the Brady Bill and many other pro-gun votes. Awkward.

Said and Unsaid by Krish Vignarajah

Krish Vignarajah is razor sharp and may have been the smartest person on the stage. She had one of the best moments of the debate with her linkage of Hogan’s Amazon package and the lack of funds to heat Baltimore schools.


Sometimes, however, what she left unsaid seemed as loud as the points she was making:
Of course, the doofus who wrote the tweet should have said primary instead of general election. However, District 18 Delegate Candidate Mila Johns was even sharper:

Vignaranjah still has not filed.

Rich Madaleno Relentless on Republicans

Unsurprisingly, all of the candidates weren’t keen on Hogan or Trump. Rich Madaleno’s remarks still stood out.

Along with Kevin Kamenetz, Madaleno made the tough sell in anti-establishment times that we need someone with experience. He contended that he and his running mate, Luwanda Jenkins, had made change and had the experience to do so as governor:

Kevin Kamenetz and Jim Shea

These two guys didn’t have moments. By all rights, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz should be a top contender. He is county executive of a swing county, clearly more knowledgeable than many of his rivals on a lot of issues due to having grappled with them in office, and does his best to link them to personal stories from his own life or time as county exec.

Yet, Kamenetz is simply not a natural debater and seems a bit awkward on the stage despite clearly having worked on honing his pitch. He was at his best when challenged due to his sureness and utter willingness to fight back. But it just didn’t feel like his moment as he didn’t connect with his audience.

Jim Shea seems earnest, well-meaning, smart and steeped in the community. He has been involved in a litany of efforts to improve Baltimore and Maryland for years. He was seated next to Vignarajah and the contrast could not have been greater. He’s an an unexciting and unmemorable speaker who had all of the specific, deep knowledge of Maryland she lacked. They should consider teaming up.

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Top MoCo Fundraisers, January 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Recently, we have run several reports on fundraising through January 2018.  This post combines all of our data and presents the top 20 fundraisers in MoCo so far.  Note that we break out self-financing and report totals raised for the cycle, not just totals since the last report.  And… here they are!

A few random thoughts.

1.  It’s natural to expect Brian Frosh and Peter Franchot to be the leaders since they both hold statewide offices.  Of the county-level candidates, Council Member Roger Berliner, who is running for Executive, is number one.

2.  The numbers for Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), who is running for Governor, are misleading since he will be applying for public matching funds.  Madaleno has said that he anticipates receiving about $975,000 from the state.

3.  Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18), who is running for Senate, is the leading fundraiser among all of MoCo’s state legislators.  He will need that money against his self-funding rival, Dana Beyer.

4.  County Executive candidate David Blair, gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah, Council District 1 candidate Andrew Friedson and Council At-Large candidate Bill Conway are first-time candidates.  It’s a significant achievement for first-timers to make a list of this kind although it’s somewhat tempered by the self-financing of Blair and Vignarajah.

5.  Delegate Marc Korman (D-16) is the only first-term elected official on this list.  That’s a big deal and a sign of good things to come.

6.  Council Member Marc Elrich, who is running for Executive, has never been on a top fundraising list in his life.  He is now, and that’s thanks to public financing.

7.  Lieutenant Governor candidate Susan Turnbull raised more money in a month and a half of campaigning than half the people on this list did in the entire cycle, a staggering feat.

8.  Governor Larry Hogan has raised more money this cycle ($11.5 million) than everyone on this list combined.

Note: an earlier version of this post mistakenly omitted Turnbull’s results.  We have corrected it to include her.

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