The four announced candidates for attorney general got the opportunity to plead their cases to a tough audience Thursday evening -- law students at the University of Maryland's Carey Law School.
With no Republicans running, few differences on issues emerged during a forum attended by the four Democrats in the race -- Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County and Dels. Aisha Braveboy of Prince George's County, Jon Cardin of Baltimore County and C. William Frick of Montgomery County. The structured format did not encourage dramatic interactions between the candidates -- and there were none.
Frick, speaking first, presented himself as the candidate willing to take on tough cases and lost causes. Cardin positioned himself as the technology-savvy alternative, ready to take on the emerging emerging threats of the Twenty-first Century. Braveboy recounted her efforts as a lawyer on behalf of victims of mortgage fraud and promised to work against "mass incarceration" -- especially for minor drug offenses. Frosh portrayed himself as the experienced hand who had steered important bills through the General Assembly while staying true to his principles.
The closest the candidates came to a clash was when Cardin rebuked Frosh for expressing the opinion that U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake had made the right call in a recent case in which she found the state had perpetuated the effects of segregation by allowing majority-white public colleges to duplicate the program offerings of historically black institutions. Cardin said it was "inappropriate" to comment on a pending case, but Frosh didn't react.
With few real disagreements and an abundance of platitudes about fighting for justice for the people, students were left to rate candidates on such concrete matters as experience and endorsements and intangibles such as passion and presentation.
A highly unscientific, statistically invalid sampling of student opinion after the forum found a split between still-undecided and Frosh, at 67 the oldest candidate in the race by two decades.
Alyssa Navarette, a third-year student from Virginia, thought Marylanders will have a good choice when they go to the polls in the June 24 primary.
"I thought they all spoke very well," she said. Neither she nor two female friends could choose among the four.
Out of five young men interviewed -- none of whom said he had made up his mind before the event -- three said Frosh had won them over. A fifth was split between Frosh and Frick -- both of whom he knew before the event.
Law student Colin Cloherty of Bethesda was one who said Frosh stood out for him.
"He seemed to have the best handle of the issues," Cloherty said. "He seemed like he had the most experience and was kind of ready to step up and start work immediately."