Political Notes: Vignarajah’s Ad, Pols Paying for Buses to Anti-Gun March

If there was any doubt that Krishanti Vignarajah hopes to capitalize on being the only woman in the nine-candidate Democratic gubernatorial primary, look no further than her first campaign ad, which debuted Wednesday.

In two different stretches of the 30-second video, Vignarajah is nursing her 9-month-old daughter, Alana.

The attention-grabbing visual is part of a broader message – that Maryland is currently lacking in female representation and that states with women leaders generally have better education and health care systems and lower incarceration rates.

Krishanti Vignarajah

Vignarajah said including the footage of her breast-feeding seemed authentic.

“This is my life,” she said. “This is what moms have been doing forever, juggling and getting the job done. But it isn’t just about representation, it’s about policy.”

Vignarajah is not the first woman political candidate to appear on camera breastfeeding her baby. That distinction apparently belongs to Kelda Roys, a former state assemblywoman who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Wisconsin. Her campaign video was released two weeks ago.

Whether or not voters are shocked by the ad, Vignarajah said, “What should shock people is that, in 2018, there are no women in Maryland’s 14 statewide or federal offices.”

Vignarajah, a one-time policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama, has put out a comprehensive plan for addressing sexual assault and harassment at the state level, and has also called for three months of paid family leave, universal pre-K, and more funding for science, math and technology education.

“Some say no man can beat Larry Hogan,” Vignarajah says at the end of the ad. “Well, I’m no man. I’m a mom, I’m a woman, and I want to be your next governor.”

Roys, the Wisconsin gubernatorial contender, has told interviewers that the footage of her breastfeeding her 4-month-old daughter happened spontaneously. Her daughter started crying while she was taping a campaign message and she scooped her up and started feeding her. Rather than edit the footage out of the 2-minute video, the campaign decided to leave it in.

“In 2018, people are hungry for people who speak the truth and say what they mean and are authentic,” Roys told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Having my kids in this video shows people that I am highly motivated to make this state a better place for them and for all our kids.”

In Vignarajah’s video, produced by the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based multimedia firm Hardpin, the breastfeeding footage does not appear to be as spontaneous.

Elizabeth Waickman, a Vignarajah spokeswoman, said that while the ad will be online initially, the campaign may eventually run it on the air as it segues into spending money on TV ads.

Get on the Bus

Several Democratic political candidates are trying to organize supporters to join them at the March for Our Lives anti-gun rally this Saturday in Washington, D.C.

David Trone, the wealthy businessman and candidate in the 6th District congressional primary, is helping to get them there, and he’s collaborating with U.S. Rep. John K. Delaney (D) and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).

The three are providing free bus service from Montgomery and Frederick counties to the march in D.C. Buses will be leaving at 8:30 a.m. from the Monocacy train station in Frederick and at 9 a.m. from the Shady Grove Metro stop in Rockville.

The buses will drop people off in front of the National Bureau of Engraving and Printing, near the National Mall, and will transport them back after the march has finished. Breakfast will be served in the morning, and riders will get T-shirts with Trone and Delaney campaign logos on them.

Trone said they decided to offer transportation to D.C. to support the “heroic efforts” of the students who are organizing the rally. “The incident at Great Mills High School this week was another chilling reminder that these mass shootings will keep happening unless we pass common sense gun safety laws,” he said.

The Democrats are asking that people go to the Trone campaign website to reserve a space on the buses.

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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