A Baltimore County man sued Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate Krishanti Vignarajah this week, asking a judge to declare her ineligible to run for governor and remove her name from the June 26 primary ballots.
Douglas Horn alleges in the lawsuit that time Vignarajah spent living and voting in Washington, D.C., disqualifies her because Maryland requires that its governor be a resident of the state for five years before the election.
Maryland law also requires that a challenge to a candidate’s eligibility be filed quickly, however. Horn’s lawyer, Clarissa Jimenez, acknowledged Thursday that bringing the suit several months after Vignarajah filed her candidacy papers could be an impediment to the case.
“I have told him that he is up against a few obstacles,” she said. “We’re going to kind of take those on as they come, and we’ll work around the defenses if need be.”
On several government documents, Vignarajah has listed her residence as a co-op unit she owns with her mother near Dupont Circle. The documents, which the lawsuit uses as exhibits, include a 2014 D.C. Board of Elections form and a 2016 application for a Maryland marriage license.
Vignarajah voted in the District from 2010 through 2014. Although she registered to vote in Maryland in 2006, she voted there for her first time in the 2016 general election. She has said she meets requirements because she considered Maryland her home even during her years in the District, when she worked for a law firm and the Obama administration.
Some Republicans told The Washington Post last month that they would try to challenge Vignarajah’s eligibility should she win the Democratic primary. While some lawyers with expertise in Maryland election law said it’s possible such a challenge would be allowed, others doubted it, given the time that has passed since Vignarajah filed to run.
Jimenez said she has no experience in election law and focuses on civil litigation and criminal defense.
Horn, whom the lawsuit identifies as a registered voter, did not respond to a request for comment made through Jimenez. An official at the Maryland State Board of Elections, which was also named in the suit, declined to comment.
Vignarajah spokeswoman Aryn Frazier responded to a request for comment by noting that Valerie Ervin, who became the second woman in the gubernatorial primary after the death of her former running mate, Kevin Kamenetz, has been unable to convince the board of elections to reprint ballots to show her at the top of the ticket.
“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,” Frazier said in an email.