Ivan Bates wins Democratic primary for Baltimore state’s attorney, defeating Marilyn Mosby

Published 7/23/2022 11:57 a.m. EDT, Updated 7/27/2022 2:51 p.m. EDT

Baltimore City State's Attorney candidate Ivan Bates arrives at at his election night event on Tuesday night. Maryland held its primary election on Tuesday, July 19.
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Ivan Bates has won the Democratic primary for Baltimore state’s attorney, unseating the two-term incumbent, Marilyn Mosby, whose tenure has been marked by progressive achievements as well as controversies and a sustained rate of high gun violence.

After the latest count of mail-in ballots was posted Friday afternoon, Bates, 53, of Locust Point, had 26,660 votes (39.83%) — at least 6,300 more than his nearest opponent. Thiru Vignarajah, 45, of Federal Hill, moved into second place with 20,349 votes (30.40%), while Mosby, 42, of Reservoir Hill, dropped to last with 19,931 votes (29.77%), according to unofficial election results from the Maryland State Board of Elections.

The Associated Press called the race — a rematch of the 2018 primary — for Bates just after 7 p.m.

In a phone interview on Friday night with The Baltimore Banner, Bates said he was “very, very humbled” by the victory.

“People are really afraid in this city, and crime is out of control. We had a message that resonated,” Bates said.

Mosby had been seeking a third term while under federal indictment and awaiting a fall trial for perjury, and was battered by her opponents for the city’s persistent high crime rate.

On Saturday, Mosby released a statement reporting that she called Bates to concede. Her office, she said, is prepared to “facilitate a smooth and orderly transition to the new administration.”

“I am grateful to my family and my colleagues in the State’s Attorney’s office for their commitment to our city and all their hard work on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore,” Mosby said. “We have so much to be proud of and I am forever indebted to so many for their love, support and partnership over these past eight years.”

“The opportunity to serve this city and the strong resilient people of Baltimore is the greatest blessing of my life and I am forever appreciative,” she added.

Vignarajah conceded later in the morning.

In a statement, Vignarajah said he called Bates to congratulate and wish him success. “Baltimore faces monumental challenges and we will all need him and his incredible team to be the best they can be,” Vignarajah said.

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He said he also spoke to Mosby and thanked her and her family for their service.

Bates, who served as an assistant state’s attorney from 1996-2002, has pledged to reverse one of Mosby’s key policies and resume prosecuting low-level, nonviolent offenses including drug possession, prostitution and trespassing. He’s vowed that illegal gun possession will lead to jail time.

He said he was getting text messages and phone calls from former prosecutors from around the area, even out of state, eager to help be part of the “great rebuild” of the office, which has suffered from a wave of departures.

Bates has also called for prosecutors to dismiss the case against Keith Davis Jr., 30, of Reisterstown, who’s awaiting a fifth trial on charges such as second-degree murder in the deadly shooting of Kevin Jones near Pimlico Race Course on June 7, 2015. Davis maintains his innocence, and his supporters worked the polls in support of Bates.

Bates will face an independent candidate, Roya Hanna, a defense attorney at the Law Office of Roya Hanna LLC and former city prosecutor, on Election Day.

Mosby has been a polarizing figure who became the youngest top prosecutor in a major U.S. city when she took office in 2015. During that campaign, Mosby criticized the incumbent state’s attorney, Gregg Bernstein, for not doing enough to stop violent crime.

Baltimore has experienced more than 300 homicide every year since she’s taken office. Mosby later said she should not be blamed for what happens in the streets, adding that prosecutors become involved “after somebody has already made a poor decision or broken the law.”

Several months into the job, Mosby announced indictments against six Baltimore Police officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, 25, a Black man who suffered a spinal injury in the back of a police van after being arrested in West Baltimore. He died on April 19, 2015, leading to protests and unrest.

None of the cases resulted in convictions.

During her tenure, she halted prosecutions — and, in turn, arrests by police — for low-level nonviolent crimes, and stepped up efforts to exonerate the wrongly convicted. But she maintained that her office continued to be tough on the most serious crimes.

She’s accused of making a series of dishonest financial moves to buy two vacation homes in Florida worth more than $1 million. Her trial is set to begin on Sept. 19.

In other city races

In the race for city school board, four top vote-getters will go on to compete in the general election for two spots on the board. As of 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Ashley Esposito, April Curley, Kwame Kenyatta-Bey and Salimah Jasani were ahead. Jasani is 965 votes ahead of Johnson, who is in fifth place, according to unofficial election results from the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Liz Bowie contributed to this story.

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