From Sun Magazine: A marriage made in Annapolis
Maryland's new second family adds romance to a world of power and policy
Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown with his new wife, Karmen Walker Brown, a Comcast executive, at the Statehouse (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun / June 11, 2012)
Karmen Walker, she suggested. The willowy government relations liaison for Comcast was a familiar face around Annapolis. Brown knew her work, that her husband had been killed in a car accident, that she was a single mother.
"No way," Brown said. "She's got to be in a relationship."
If his friend could confirm Walker's availability, Brown agreed to call her. Five minutes after lunch, his phone rang: Confirmed.
And so began the lieutenant governor's pursuit of the woman who on Memorial Day, in an elegant ceremony before family, friends and state officials, became his wife and Maryland's second lady.
Just days after the wedding, not long before they jetted off to honeymoon through Spain, Walker caressed Brown's hand lightly with her fingertips. His arm was slung easily around her shoulder. Even in the diffused executive-suite light, her new diamonds glistened as she reached over to adjust his tie.
In Maryland's State House, with its cold marble, sober appointments and endless policy-talk, love, it seems, is now on the agenda.
And it all started with a shot of Brown bravado.
Right after setting his sights on Walker, Brown spotted her at a National Harbor event, walking across the room. He figured he had only seconds to gather himself. But Prince George's CountyExecutive Rushern Baker intercepted her, and Brown lost his groove. When Walker finally turned to him, he could muster only pleasantries. Nothing about a date.
But as she started walking away, Brown flung caution to the wind and blurted, "I'm going to ask you out." Surprised, flustered and, yes, pleased, Walker stammered back, "OK."
He was dialing her number before he left the parking lot.
Brown planned that first date with a degree of military precision one could only expect from an Army veteran. He didn't just phone in a reservation. He scoped out Crofton's Sly Horse Tavern in advance, reconnaissance-style, assessing the tables, previewing the menu, parking his car there so the trooper who usually chauffeurs him to events wouldn't be hovering outside during the meal, waiting to deliver him home.
In the end, none of it mattered.
"On a first date you wonder if you'll be able to talk for 90 seconds," Brown says. "As soon as we sat down, it was pretty obvious to me it would last 90 minutes — and it might last 90 years."
Walker might not have been so sold. But their chemistry couldn't be denied. Lost in conversation, they closed the place down.
Over the months, he made her his famous glazed salmon and they burned through phone minutes. Eventually the two began to realize that if they were going to get any closer, it was time to introduce each other to their children — as Walker put it, a big, big deal.
Brown has two children — Rebecca, a teenager, and Jonathan, who's almost 12 now — with his former wife of 16 years, Patricia Arzuaga, from whom he was divorced in 2009. Walker's husband, Prince George's County police Cpl. Anthony Walker, died on the job in a car accident in 2003. She has a son, Anthony, who's a few months older than Brown's son.
"My son was without his father since before his fourth birthday," Walker says. "I'd been a guarded mother, and I did not want to bring anyone into his life until I felt like they were going to be around."
So they moved slowly. First Anthony met Brown over dinner at his place. Then Walker met Brown's kids during an outdoor excursion. They fished, shared rides to camp, cheered on D.C. United. They bonded.