T.J. Smith, who ran unsuccessfully for Baltimore mayor in the Democratic primary this year, has signed on as an adviser to Robert Wallace, a businessman who is making an Independent bid for the office.
“I’m thrilled to join Bob Wallace’s campaign team during such a critical time for Baltimore as we select our next leader to move our city forward,” Smith said in a statement.
Smith, 42, finished sixth in the multi-candidate June Democratic primary, with 5.8% of the vote — though he was competitive in several polls before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, limiting his ability to make inroads against better-known and better-funded candidates.
He has served in law enforcement for over 20 years, as chief spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department and as director of media relations for the Anne Arundel County Police Department, among other positions. Before running for mayor he served as press secretary for Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. (D).
Smith says he has known Wallace, 63, for many years. Like Wallace, Smith was born and raised in Baltimore. He then earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in management from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s in strategic communications from Washington State University.
“His experience in grass-roots campaigning, voter outreach, and his profound knowledge of the inner workings of the city will be an invaluable asset to our campaign as we look ahead to the November general election,” Wallace said about Smith.
Wallace faces an uphill battle against City Council President Brandon M. Scott, who won the Democratic primary by about 2 points. Republican Shannon Wright and another unaffiliated candidate, Kahan Singh Dhillon, are also in the November general election.
The Wallace campaign announced this week that he had secured a place on the November ballot. Ordinarily he would have been required to submit 4,000 petition signatures from registered voters to appear on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate, but that number was slashed in half due to the pandemic and the difficulties associated with obtaining signatures. The campaign said it collected more than 8,000 signatures.
Wallace is a longtime registered Republican, but said that running as an Independent is the best way to bring his ideas to the table.
“[I] am confident that he has the proven experience and vision to bring positive change to Baltimore,” Smith said of Wallace.
Smith says in the upcoming months he will focus on building a grass-roots team to reach voters across the city.
In addition to going to work for Wallace, Smith on Thursday released a letter endorsing his bid.
“I know that we need a compassionate, knowledgeable, ‘ready on day one’ job creator to help immediately address the longstanding problems that exist in our city,” he wrote. “I enthusiastically endorse Bob Wallace for Mayor of Baltimore. We need a pragmatic, non-partisan, leader who has a track record of success for us to realize our full potential.”