Maryland gubernatorial candidate Krishanti Vignarajah has chosen Sharon Blake, a former teacher and former president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, as her running mate in the June 26 Democratic primary.
The selection by Vignarajah, the only woman in the crowded field, creates the first all-female gubernatorial ticket in Maryland since 1994, and the first in the state to include two women of color.
“It’s time for Maryland to make history,” Vignarajah said in a statement. “We have a strong, united vision — a vision for leadership, a vision for public education, and a vision for elevating women and women of color to have a stronger, louder voice at the table and in the political process here in Maryland.”
No woman holds a statewide elected position in Maryland. The 2016 retirement of then-Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), and the resignation that year of then-Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D) to seek Mikulski’s seat, left Maryland without a woman in its congressional delegation for the first time in 77 years.
Blake, 67, is a native of Prince George’s County and spent four decades as a teacher. A graduate of Morgan State University, she said she shares Vignarajah’s commitment to education.
Both Blake and Vignarajah, a former policy director for Michelle Obama, are products of Maryland’s public school systems.
“Prioritizing education and our children is key to addressing and solving issues facing Maryland. Where does it all start? In our schools,” Blake said in a statement. “Maryland’s children are our future, and our state budget and priorities must reflect that.”
Vignarajah, 38, announced her running mate just hours before the 9 p.m. filing deadline on Tuesday, the last day to officially submit paperwork to be on the ballot.
Neither she nor Blake have held public office.
Most of the other Democratic candidates named their running mates over the last two weeks. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz chose former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin; Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III selected Baltimore attorney Elizabeth Embry; attorney Jim Shea chose Baltimore City Council member Brandon Scott; State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. of Montgomery selected Luwanda Jenkins, an appointee in the administration of former governor Martin O’Malley; and tech entrepreneur Alec Ross picked Julie Verratti, a small-business owner in Montgomery County.
In November, former NAACP president Ben Jealous selected Susan W. Turnbull, a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee and former chair of the state Democratic Party, as his running mate.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford in November.