Michelle Obama's former policy director is running for governor of Maryland, with her gender at the forefront of her campaign.
"I am running for governor because I am worried my daughter will not have the same opportunities my parents gave me when they brought our family here when I was a baby girl," Krishanti Vignarajah said in a statement. "I hope Marylanders will agree the best man for the job is a woman."
Vignarajah, who was raised in Maryland, was not just Obama's policy director, but also served as senior adviser under Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
She has not served in elected office before, having graduated from Yale Law School and worked in law and business before her time at the White House.
Vignarajah used her announcement to criticize two key Republican politicians: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and President Donald Trump. Maryland was once "a beacon of hope, opportunity, innovation, and courage," Vignarajah said, but Hogan's leadership has harmed the state.
"Today too many of the students who can least afford to be left behind have been forgotten altogether," she said. "Too many workers have been left out … A deficit in leadership from the Governor could not come at a worse time."
Vignarajah said she would focus on "improving schools, increasing wages, reducing crime, treating drug addiction, alleviating traffic, investing in infrastructure, and protecting our sacred environment," and framed her values in opposition to Trump.
"To accomplish all this, we need a new generation of leadership that will make progress at home, while standing up to a White House that threatens the very values that unite and define us," she said.
Vignarajah is the first woman to officially join a field of candidates already featuring state officials, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, and former NAACP president Ben Jealous. Rep. John Delaney (D.) already decided not to run, instead announcing a bid for president in 2020.