SHE LED POLICY FOR MICHELLE OBAMA. NOW SHE WANTS TO RUN MARYLAND.

OZY | 6/8/2018 | Nick Fouriezos
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The tables at the Jaycees Community Center are worn, the faded bingo stand left out from some event other than this Democratic gubernatorial forum in Waldorf, Maryland. For an hour and a half, a moderator pulls questions from the audience of maybe 50 people, who fill the folding chairs with their nods, stares and half-hearted applause. Krish Vignarajah, tries to inject some enthusiasm into the quiet crowd on a Sunday in April. “The orthodoxy out there is that no man can beat Larry Hogan,” she says, pausing for emphasis. “Well, I am no man,” she rallies, her black slacks and gold-buttoned, white jacket looking every bit like a military uniform — as if to say, yes, this daughter of Sri Lankan immigrant teachers will wage the necessary war to defeat the Republican incumbent.

She is at the vanguard of the Year of the Woman, in a state without a single woman in its 14 federal offices, following the retirement last year of longtime senator Barbara Mikulski. The “no man” line is a fittingly nerdy nod to The Lord of the Rings, uttered by the shieldmaiden Éowyn as she strikes down a demon king, who might be as daunting a foe as America’s second-most popular governor. Vignarajah first notably used the quip in a campaign ad a month before, one that caught the attention of everyone, from The New York Times to People, because the spot featured her breastfeeding her months-old daughter.

Vignarajah - Femininity - Contrast - President - Donald

Vignarajah has leaned into her femininity as a direct contrast to both President Donald Trump and Hogan. Her résumé seems perfectly crafted for the #MeToo era, as she was policy adviser for first lady Michelle Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — but don’t expect her to ride their coattails. “I want to stand on my own two feet,”...
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