"I'm mindful of the historic significance of my candidacy — that I might be the first African-American elected governor in Maryland history and only the third in the history of this country," he said.

Brown can expect to have the wholehearted support of O'Malley, who has pledged to do all he can to make sure his longtime partner succeeds him.

O'Malley praised Brown in an email to supporters Thursday.

"For more than six years, Marylanders have benefited from the strength of Anthony's leadership," the governor wrote. "He spearheaded our new public-private partnership law that's estimated to create 4,000 jobs, he fought to expand health care to over 365,000 more Marylanders, and he led the way on actions to curb domestic violence."

O'Malley's support is a distinct advantage among some Maryland voters. Arthur Hock, a longtime Democrat from Chestertown, said he drove to the rally and cookout because "Martin asked me to support Anthony."

"He's an active lieutenant governor and he's very intelligent, too," Hock said.

Brown also has fans in his own right — especially in his home county. Regina Humaine-Rolle, a retired principal from Largo, praised his record on education.

"He has a history of supporting schools," Humaine-Rolle said. "He's about the children of our generation, and he believes in lifelong learning."

But demographics and the governor's backing by themselves are unlikely to gain Brown the nomination. He faces the challenge of holding white liberals who have supported O'Malley in such jurisdictions as Montgomery County, home to Gansler and Mizeur, and Howard County, where Ulman is popular.

Brown will be attempting to end a long losing streak for Maryland lieutenant governors seeking higher office.

His immediate predecessor, Republican Michael S. Steele, lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 2006. The last Democratic lieutenant governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, lost her gubernatorial race in 2002 after a campaign that was burdened by the waning popularity of Gov. Parris N. Glendening and a stalling economy.

In earlier decades, Lt. Govs. Melvin "Mickey" Steinberg and Blair Lee III faded in the stretch after being tapped as early favorites.

Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said it would be important to show voters that Brown, while in tune with O'Malley, is his own person.

"The path to victory for the lieutenant governor is to translate his service to his country in the military and service to Maryland as lieutenant governor into the reason why people should vote for his vision for the next four years in Maryland," Schall said.

Should Brown win the primary, Schall said, he won't take the general election for granted — even in a state where Democrats hold a 2-to-1 voter registration advantage over Republicans.

"The lieutenant governor is a serious candidate, and he'll take the general election just as seriously as any other election he's involved in," Schall said.


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