Natalie Cabrera loses challenge to join primary ballot in Md. for new majority-Latino district


Natalie Cabrera filed to be a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates on Feb. 25, but a judge disqualified her after a citizen filed a lawsuit against her alleging she broke election rules. (Courtesy of the Cabrera campaign)
May 1

Natalie Cabrera’s name will not be on the June primary ballot for state delegate in a new Prince George’s County legislative district that is majority-Latino, an appeals court panel ruled Thursday, because she was not a registered Democrat when she filed papers to run for the party’s nomination.

Cabrera, 32, wanted to challenge Prince George’s County Council member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville), a seasoned local politician with deep ties to the elected establishment.

Although disappointed by the ruling, Cabrera said she might launch a write-in campaign ahead of the Democratic Party primary.

“I will continue to be active and involved,” she said in a statement Thursday.

“I have learned much about the way the political system works through this process and am more committed than ever to ensuring that all the people in my community are heard and represented in the political process,” she added.

The seven-judge panel had not filed an opinion explaining its decision, which affirmed a lower court’s decision in March.

That ruling left Campos as the only declared candidate in District 47B, which is the state’s only majority-Latino district. More than 60 percent of the district’s residents are Hispanic.

Campos has said he would welcome Cabrera as an opponent. But Cabrera and her supporters have questioned whether the lawsuit challenging her candidacy was, in part, an effort to keep competitors off the ballot.

Cabrera blamed political naiveté for neglecting to switch her party affiliation. She registered to vote as a Republican when she was 18 but filed as a candidate in the Democratic primary this year.

Realizing the mistake, she became a Democrat two days after the Feb. 25 filing deadline, and a lawsuit was filed challenging her candidacy.

Cabrera’s attorney, Jonathan Shurberg, argued that she acted in good faith and within the time frame laid out by current state law — which remained unchanged after Maryland shifted its primary dates from September to June.

But the state’s attorney general’s office argued that Cabrera submitted false information to the state and that deadlines must be respected.

Cabrera’s supporters are urging her not to give up. “We should have the right to decide who represents us: the best candidate or Mr. Campos,” said Preston Munguia, who is a spokesman for a group of local Hispanic pastors.

Arelis Hernández covers Prince George’s County as part of The Washington Post's local staff.
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