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South Asian American Krishanti Vignarajah enters Maryland governor’s race

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Opposing campaign started questioning her eligibility citing she registered to vote in both DC and Maryland.

Krishanti Vignarajah
Krishanti Vignarajah

Krishanti Vignarajah, who was the policy director of Michelle Obama, has officially announced that she is running for Maryland governor.

The 37-year old Sri Lankan American, from Gaithersburg, is the first to woman to join the race for the 2018 Democratic nomination and is planning for an official campaign announcement next month.

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“I am running for Governor because I am worried my daughter will not have the same opportunities my parents gave me when they brought our family here when I was a baby girl,” Vignarajah said on her official website. “The deficit in leadership from our current Governor could not come at a worse time.

“As Governor, I will focus on what matters most – improving schools, increasing wages, reducing crime, treating drug addiction, alleviating traffic, investing in infrastructure, and protecting our treasured environment. To accomplish all this, politics as usual is not enough. We need a new generation of leadership that will make progress at home, while standing up to a White House that threatens the very values that unite and define us,” she said.

Vignarajah’s main contenders are Prince George’s Country Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), technology entrepreneur Alec Ross and lawyer James L. Shea.

Former Maryland attorney general Douglas F. Gansler, Baltimore Country Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz, and Maya Rockeymoore, who is a policy consultant married to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), are also expected to join the race.

Soon after Vignarajah’s announcement, the opposing campaign started questioning her eligibility citing she registered to vote in both DC and Maryland.

According to a Washington Post report, she registered in Maryland in 2006 and in DC in 2010. Vignarahah voted in DC in 2014 and voted in Maryland in 2016.

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She told the newspaper that the DC apartment was never her permanent residence and Catonsville address was her home.

“This kind of attack is no better than Trump’s questions on President Obama’s citizenship,” she told The Washington Post.

Vignarajah has degrees from Yale University and Oxford. She served as the Director of Policy and International Affairs to First Lady Michelle Obama. She earlier worked at the State Department and also has an extensive background in private sector as well.

Vignarajh’s parents, both were teachers at the Baltimore City public school, immigrated to the United States from Sri Lanka during the country’s civil war.

The winner of the June 2018 primary will almost certainly face the Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.