Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Hogan endorses Vignarajah, a Democrat, in Baltimore State’s Attorney’s race

Thiru Vignarajah

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has endorsed Democrat Thiru Vignarajah in the race for Baltimore City State’s Attorney, Vignarajah’s campaign announced Thursday.

The endorsement across party lines adds yet another unusual element to a race that already has been characterized by controversy.

The incumbent, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, is under indictment and expected to face trial in May, several months before the primary. She has yet to formally file for reelection, though her campaign website instructs visitors to “stay tuned.” The filing deadline is April 15.

Vignarajah will also face defense lawyer Ivan Bates who, like Vignarajah, also sought the post in 2018. Mosby won reelection that year.

Hogan on Thursday echoed his frequent criticisms of the Baltimore leadership and the city’s response to violent crime.

“For far too long, violent criminals have been allowed to terrorize the streets of Baltimore with impunity,” Hogan said in a news release. “Every single day, the people of Baltimore pay a steep price for that failure with lost loved ones, terrified families, and countless lost potential. This crisis rises above partisan politics. It’s not about right or left. It’s about right and wrong.”

Roger Hartley, the dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs, said the endorsement could cut both ways for Vignarajah. Hogan enjoys a high approval rating in Maryland but is less popular in heavily Democratic Baltimore.

“It’s typically unusual, especially in this day of divided politics, for a Republican governor to endorse a Democrat for a local office or vice versa,” Hartley said. “It is also an endorsement of a challenger to a sitting incumbent, which is something else that sometimes leaders are cautious in doing.”

Hogan has not been shy with his denunciations of Mosby. He ordered a state review late last year into grant funding her office received, sparking a fiery exchange between the two politicians.

Mosby, whose office stopped prosecuting certain low-level, nonviolent offenses during the pandemic, has accused Hogan of using Baltimore as a “punching bag” and targeting her with baseless criticisms.

Vignarajah highlighted that divide in a statement Thursday with the endorsement announcement.

“For eight years, the governor has done his best to support the city in its battle against violent crime,” Vignarajah said in a statement. “But Governor Hogan knows that without leadership at the local level this fight is infinitely harder than it needs to be.”

Mosby is also facing the uncertainty of a federal indictment on charges of perjury and making false statements on loan applications. Her case is set for trial on May 2 and is expected to conclude within a few weeks, well before the July 19 primary.

Bates did not comment directly on Hogan’s endorsement, but said in a statement that he remains “laser-focused on providing the accountability, leadership, and experience to end the gun violence epidemic in Baltimore.”

Roya M. Hanna, a defense attorney and former prosecutor, is also running for state’s attorney. She recently announced she would drop out of the Democratic primary and run as an Independent.