Democrat Brian Frosh, who has fought Trump policies, wins re-election as Maryland attorney general

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat who has emerged as one of the Trump administration’s chief antagonists, secured an easy victory over a Republican challenger who questioned his record of fighting violent crime across Maryland.

The mild-mannered Frosh, 72, held a wide lead over Republican challenger Craig Wolf, a 56-year-old former prosecutor and liquor industry lobbyist. Wolf said shortly after 11 p.m. that he had conceded the race.

Wolf had some success shifting the race onto his terrain — violent crime — but analysts say he lacked the funds to mount a truly threatening statewide campaign.

Victory for Frosh, who called his win “convincing,” continues a Democratic winning streak in Maryland’s attorney general elections that began in 1922. The last time a Republican was elected to the post was in 1918.

"My opponent’s criticism of me was I was spending too much time worrying about Donald Trump,” Frosh said. “I think that was soundly rejected.”

Wolf was counting on riding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s popular coattails in trying to convince a heavily-Democratic state to elect him over Frosh. But political observers doubted Hogan’s high popularity ratings would translate to other Republicans seeking statewide office.

Frosh, who represented parts of Montgomery County in the General Assembly for three decades, has said that when he first campaigned to become attorney general in 2014 he expected to be working alongside a Democratic governor and would never have predicted the rise of Donald Trump.

But after Trump’s election, Frosh moved quickly to hold the new president’s administration accountable in court. He has cooperated with a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general and has participated in about 20 legal challenges to Trump’s policies on immigration, education, healthcare and the environment.

Perhaps the most prominent legal battle Frosh has been involved in is over the president’s continued ownership of a Washington hotel. Frosh alleges that Trump’s ownership of the destination violates constitutional rules against accepting gifts from foreign governments when officials from other countries stay at the hotel. Just last week, a federal judge rejected an effort by the president’s lawyers to put the case on hold.

Frosh says the cases are a way of standing up for Maryland residents’ rights and values in the face of a hostile administration.

But Wolf attacked Frosh over the Trump lawsuits, saying they diverted resources from other efforts that are more worthy of attention from the attorney general’s office, especially fighting crime.

The Maryland attorney general has historically had only a limited role in pursuing criminal prosecutions, but Wolf made violent crime a central issue of his campaign. He ran television ads showing news footage of the aftermath of shootings in Baltimore and campaigned in heavily Democratic Baltimore.

Wolf also promised to roll back one of Frosh’s signature achievements — limiting the role of bail in determining whether criminal suspects are held as they await trials. He argued it was making the state less safe.

For Frosh, getting the state’s top court to agree to new bail rules was a major breakthrough and a victory on an issue that is gaining attention from progressives across the country, who have argued that low-income defendants are held unfairly pending trial.

In a recent speech, Frosh pointed to cases where his office has stood up for vulnerable consumers, such as backing an immigrant who tangled with a defense lawyer and battling a nursing home chain that was evicting patients.

In his second term, Frosh is expected to initiate more fights with the federal government, pursue an investigation into abuse within the Catholic Church and possibly launch a case against opioid manufacturers and distributors over their alleged role in stoking the overdose death crisis.

“We’re going to keep doing the stuff that we’ve been doing,” Frosh said. “We’ve been protecting consumers, we’ve been protecting people from criminals and we’ve been protecting them from the Trump administration.”

Live results: 2018 general election in Maryland »

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