The only female candidate running for governor in the state on Maryland has released a campaign ad that shows her breastfeeding her infant daughter.
Krish Vignarajah is one of seven Democrats in the running for the party’s nomination to challenge incumbent Republican governor Larry Hogan, and this week she unveiled her first campaign video for the election.
And it’s not a throwaway moment in the clip, either: The 38-year-old’s entire ad centers on having greater female representation in government and why it matters.
Mom: Krish Vignarajah breastfeeds her infant daughter in a campaign video for governor of Maryland
Real life: The 38-year-old nurses Alana while speaking to the camera about needing more women in office
Why it’s important: ‘This isn’t just about representation, it’s about policy,’ she says
‘There are no women in statewide or federal office in Maryland. None,’ Vignarajah says in the ad.
‘This isn’t just about representation, it’s about policy,’ she goes on. ‘States with women in government have better schools, better healthcare, lower incarceration rates. I want all of that for Maryland.’
As she speaks, video plays of the proud mom reading to her nine-month-old daughter Alana and playing with her. In some clips, they are joined by her husband Collin O’Mara, who is the President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.
‘My parents came to this country with $200, and I grew up to be policy director for Michelle Obama,’ Vignarajah says of her qualifications.
The camera then cuts to the candidate, who is shown cradling her breastfeeding daughter in her arms.
‘Some say no man can beat Larry Hogan. Well, I’m no man. I’m a mom. I’m a woman. And I want to be your next governor,’ she concludes.
Abysmal: She points out that out of 14 statewide and federal officials in Maryland, none are women
In need of change: She also lists off the ways in which states with women in government perform better
Improvements: Vignarajah, who also features in the ad alongside her husband Collin O’Mara, added that states with women in government also have better schools and healthcare
‘We are talking about the need for women and moms in politics and the importance of having a diversity of viewpoints in elected office,’ she said
Decision: As to why she decided to breastfeed in the ad, she said: ‘I know sometimes people shirk away from that part of it, and I just thought, Why?’
Vignarajah told The Baltimore Sun that the online ad released Wednesday deliberately emphasizes gender to highlight how women in leadership can push for different polices than men, creating ‘better outcomes.’
Speaking to The Cut, she added: ‘We are not talking about the need for women in office as identity politics. We are talking about the need for women and moms in politics and the importance of having a diversity of viewpoints in elected office.’
As to why she decided to show herself breastfeeding on camera, she said it was about being honest.
‘I wanted to be true to my experience and message and why I am running, and at the core of that is my daughter,’ she said. ‘Part of that is also me breastfeeding. I know sometimes people shirk away from that part of it, and I just thought, Why?’
Family: Vignarajah talked about her parents, who came to the US with just $200
Accomplishments: She grew up to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Yale College with a Master’s degree in Political Science and a B.S. in Molecular Biology
Experience: She also worked for Michelle Obama as policy director, as well as Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of State
Happy families: O’Mara, who is President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, and Vignarajah wed in May 2016
Vignarajah is actually the second gubernatorial candidate during this campaign season to show herself breastfeeding in an ad.
Earlier this month, former state representative Kelda Roys released her own campaign ad in a bid to become governor of Wisconsin.
In the clip, the 38-year-old is discussing her work fighting to pass a bill banning a toxic chemical when her four-month-old daughter, off-camera, gets hungry. Instead of taking a break to breastfeed, she has her husband hand her the little girl, and she feeds her on camera.
‘Government should be about helping every person achieve his or her potential, and Wisconsin used to do it so well,’ she says. ‘Democracy only works when we all get involved.’
Roys, who’s one of about a dozen Democrats hoping to take on Governor Scott Walker this November, told DailyMail.com the moment was not planned, and is simply a representation of her life.
‘It wasn’t planned — anyone who has kids knows you can’t really plan what a baby does!’ the mother-of-two said.
Another one: Earlier this month, former state representative Kelda Roys released her own campaign ad in a bid to become governor of Wisconsin
Trend: Roys said the moment was not planned and she thought the bit would be edited out. Ultimately, she decided, ‘Well, this is just real life’
Background: During her time as a state representative, Roys helped pass legislation that protects a woman’s right to breastfeed in public without being asked to move or cover herself
‘I was in the middle of recording the interview, and of course my family was with me. When she started to fuss I just took her and started nursing, and didn’t really think anything of it.
‘As a mother it’s sort of an automatic response. I figured they would just edit that part out or maybe use the audio, but when the video came back and it was there, I thought, “Well, this is just real life.'”‘
For Roys, it was important to show she’s not just a business owner, lawyer, and former state representative, but also a mom.
She said: ‘I’m also a parent, and my kids are a huge part of why I’m so motivated to take Wisconsin in a new direction. I think a lot of people can relate to that – wanting to make the world better for our kids. And if other working parents can get some encouragement from me showing that part of myself, so much the better.’
Roys, who’s also a stepmother to two older girls, has always stood for the rights of mothers to breastfeed. During her time as a state representative for Madison, she helped pass legislation that protects a woman’s right to breastfeed in public without being asked to move or cover herself.
When protests broke out in the state in 2011 over Governor Walker’s collective bargaining law, Roys’ offered her office as an informal nursing room for women to escape chaos in the capitol, as reported by Madinson’s State Journal.