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State Sen. Mary Washington Suspends Mayoral Race, Citing Coronavirus Constituent Care

Rachel Baye

 Progressive state senator Mary Washington has suspended her campaign for the Democratic mayoral primary, saying she needs to fully devote her time to 43rd legislative district constituents as the novel coronavirus pandemic and its public health and economic impact worsens.


“The extraordinary events of the past several weeks have drastically changed our way of life in Baltimore and across the nation. During this unprecedented time, I am deeply committed, first and foremost, to standing by the people of the 43rd District as their State Senator,” Washington said in a Monday statement. 

Washington’s campaign had already suspended upcoming events, including a fundraiser, amid coronavirus concerns last week.


Washington said she will now focus on convening a response team to deliver resources for those in her district who may not be able to leave their homes. She will also work with local businesses facing a severe financial impact from the pandemic.


Legislative leaders suspended Maryland’s General Assembly for the first time since the Civil War on Sunday because of the pandemic. Legislators, Washington among them, are now working around the clock to pass the state’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget and vote on several key initiatives before session adjourns on Wednesday.


Washington had polled at 5 percent in a recent WYPR, Baltimore Sun and University of Baltimore mayoral poll. The 57-year-old was popular among white young voters, but struggled to break out with the city’s electorate, which is two-thirds African-American and older than 50. 


The state senator has strong support among her 43rd legislative district constituents, Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs, said in early March, but suffers from a lack of name recognition throughout the rest of Baltimore. 


Washington was endorsed by progressive groups including Our Revolution, NARAL Pro-Choice MD and Baltimore Women United. In 2010, Washington was elected as the first openly LGBTQ African-American elected to state office in Maryland; had she won the 2020 election, Washington would’ve been the first ever LGBTQ mayor of Baltimore.


She will remain in her state office seat, which is not up for re-election until 2022.


“This campaign was about leading with integrity, offering real solutions to the challenges facing Baltimore, and demonstrating strength in the face of adversity,” the Democrat said in a statement. “These are the values that will lead and unify our city through the difficult times that lie ahead.”

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.