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A crowd of several dozen people spilled onto Rhode Island Avenue NW Saturday, as attorney general hopeful Edward H. “Smitty” Smith launched his campaign in front of the house where his grandmother once lived.

The setting wasn’t the only thing pointing to Smith’s upbringing in the District. Smith, whose campaign materials describe him as “D.C.’s own,” declared that his roots in the city remained “deep” even as he earned his law degree at Harvard.

“My internal compass never wavered,” Smith said. “It always pointed here.”

As elected attorney general, Smity said he’d focus on improving the District’s juvenile justice system—-less time in courtrooms and more time in classrooms, in Smith’s formulation.

Apparently that message is jibing with somebody. Smith’s campaign claims that, a little more than a week after launching, they’ve already collected almost 2,000 of the 3,000 signatures required to make the ballot and raised $70,000.

Those coffers can be buoyed by corporate contributions. Unlike some candidates in D.C. Council and mayoral races, Smith says he’s accepting corporate money—-although he promises to “examine where they’re coming from.”

Smith, a 34-year-old former Federal Communications Commission attorney, said his relative youth won’t be a weakness in a field that includes more experienced attorneys Paul Zukerberg and Karl Racine.

“I’m not intimidated by the size of the office,” Smith says.

Photo by Will Sommer