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News Opinion Editorial

Frosh for attorney general [Editorial]

It is a rare pleasure in any election year (and perhaps this one more than most) to have a candidate for state-wide office we can endorse so enthusiastically as we do Brian Frosh in the Democratic primary for attorney general. In his career in the General Assembly, he has distinguished himself as a considerate and effective legislator, and we have no doubt that he would excel as Maryland's top lawyer.

Mr. Frosh has represented Montgomery County in the state Senate since 1995 and was in the House of Delegates for two terms before that. He has been chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee since 2003, and it is in that role that he has most readily demonstrated the skills that would serve the state so well if he were attorney general. His committee has been the focal point for some of the most contentious debates in recent years, from gay marriage to gun control, and he has at once demonstrated his abilities as a passionate advocate for public safety and social justice and as an inclusive leader who gives all sides their due. Ask the Republicans who have served on his committee, and they'll tell you he unfailingly treats them with dignity and respect.

Mr. Frosh's depth and breadth of expertise is unmatched by his opponents and perhaps by anyone in the legislature. If he had set out at the beginning of his legislative career to develop an ideal resume to be attorney general, he could hardly have done better.

After all, who should we trust to enforce Maryland's new gun control and defend it against litigation by the National Rifle Association, if not its chief architect? Who should enforce our environmental laws, if not the person who led the fight to require tighter emissions standards for Maryland cars? Who do we want fighting for consumers if not the leader in the fight against abusive ground rent laws? Who is better qualified to foster public safety than a leader in the effort to prevent and prosecute domestic violence or to reduce drunk driving? Who should enforce civil rights laws, if not the committee chairman who shepherded gay marriage, the death penalty repeal and the transgender anti-discrimination law through the Senate?

What is perhaps most heartening about Mr. Frosh's candidacy is the extent to which he is focused on the task of managing the agency he's seeking to lead. The attorney general's office provides legal advice to state agencies, defends the state in court and sues on its behalf when necessary. To do that job properly requires recruiting top-notch attorneys who could easily make more money in private practice, and it requires developing the proper relationship between the attorney general's office and the rest of the state government. Mr. Frosh is focused on those unglamorous practicalities to a degree his opponents are not.

A word about his opponents. Del. Aisha Braveboy of Prince George's County is an intelligent lawmaker with poise beyond her years. Her work on behalf of youth caught up in the juvenile justice system is commendable, as is her focus on civil rights and economic justice issues, such as foreclosures and wage disparities. We hope and believe she will have a bright future in public service.

The third candidate in the race is Del. Jon Cardin of Baltimore County. His chief experience in the General Assembly has been in election law, which gives him a window into civil rights issues, and he has also made a name for himself in recent years through his work on cyber crimes and online bullying. He says the next attorney general will need to be focused on those sorts of emerging threats, and we have no doubt that's true.

Mr. Cardin has made the news twice in recent years for the wrong reasons. The first was because of a marriage proposal in which he recruited Baltimore City police officers — including the helicopter unit — to stage a fake raid on him and his fiancee to be. The second was a report in The Sun that he had missed 75 percent of his committee votes during this year's General Assembly session. We are concerned not so much about either incident — in the first case, he has admitted a mistake, and in the second, he said he was attending to family health issues — but about his reaction to them. In both cases, his immediate response was to dodge questions and avoid accountability.

Ultimately, however, our endorsement is not about the shortcomings of any of the candidates but the extraordinary qualifications of Mr. Frosh. It would be difficult to find a more thoughtful, straightforward and honest lawmaker in Annapolis, and those are just the qualities we need in an attorney general.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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