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Mayor race shake-up: Vignarajah drops out, endorses Dixon

Thiru Vignarajah candidate interview
Posted at 2:03 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 10:46:27-04

Just one day before early voting begins, Thiru Vignarajah announced on Wednesday that he's dropping out of the mayoral race and endorsing Sheila Dixon.

"It was not an easy choice to draw to a close our campaign," he said behind a "Shelia Dixon for Mayor" podium on Wednesday.

A senior campaign source with the Brandon Scott campaign told WMAR-2 News that Vignarajah offered to consider endorsing Scott, in exchange for consideration that he be installed as either the police commissioner or City Schools CEO.

The two met this morning, where Mayor Scott let Vignarajah know it wouldn't happen.

"Thiru's endorsement was for sale," said the source, and "we know what the price was when he came to us."

The same source said that this is what Scott means when he says the City needs to get away from the "old broken ways of the past."

Scott's campaign released the below official statement on the endorsement:

“One failed corrupt politician endorsing another failed corrupt politician is a prime example of the broken, corrupt politics of the past. Thiru’s endorsement was for sale and Sheila Dixon was more than happy to buy it. We’d expect nothing less from Sheila Dixon, who has already proven time and again her personal interests outweigh all others.”
- Nicholas Machado, campaign manager, Brandon Scott

In a sit-down with Vignarajah last month, he told anchor Jamie Costello he was running because "I couldn't watch from the sidelines hearing this debate about which is the lesser of two evils."

In the most recent Goucher College-Baltimore Banner poll in April, Vignarajah was polling in third place, behind incumbent Mayor Brandon Scott and former Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Candidate Bob Wallace was polling fourth, with 3% support, in the April poll and released the following statement on the development of the race.

"Voters of Baltimore: Now that Thiru Vignarajah has dropped out of the race for Mayor, the voters have a clear choice between the policies and failures of the past, and the promise of the future with me as mayor. We should not lose sight of the well placed observations that Thiru made about both Brandon Scott and especially Sheila Dixon. On crime, housing, education and most other issues confronting Baltimore City, Thiru noted that both Scott and Dixon have had a combined 40 years of experience and opportunity to solve these problems, yet they remain open wounds in the side of the citizens today. I, Bob Wallace, am the only candidate left in the race that is not wedded to and burdened by the past, as I am unbossed and unbought by any of the special interests that have always had excessive influence in the selection of the city’s leaders. We will continue to communicate our values, policies, and vision for the future of Baltimore City. I pledge to continue to seek the trust and support from voters who may be undecided. I look forward to welcoming all the voters that desire a real change for Baltimore to my campaign, and pledge to remain in the race until the end to provide the voting public a real alternative to the same old same old we have seen for so long."
- Bob Wallace, Candidate for Mayor

Prior to that poll's release, Vignarajah told WMAR-2 News that his campaign was gaining momentum, but the poll showed his support at just 11%.

In that interview, he also said, "I love this City. Sheila had a chance, Brandon had a chance, they failed. They left this City in disarray and in disgrace."

Dixon released a statement late Wednesday evening, in response to the accusations.

"Mayor Scott has responded to today’s endorsement news by pushing a false narrative regarding commitments I have allegedly made to Mr. Vignarajah. While we had conversations about issues facing the city and his desire to support my team in addressing them, I can say unequivocally that no promises were made regarding future employment with my administration. I have a reputation of being a strong manager that brings smart people with different perspectives to the table. I appreciate Mr. Vignarajah's support today and I look forward to working with him towards a better Baltimore."
- Sheila Dixon, Candidate for Mayor