State Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a veteran Montgomery County Democrat known for his work on gun laws and the environment, announced his candidacy for attorney general Tuesday, saying he wants to be "the people's lawyer."
"In a world where powerful special interests seem to get all the breaks, too many Marylanders feel like their voices aren't being heard," Frosh wrote in an email to supporters. "They want to know they've got an advocate who will fight for them. They want to know someone has got their backs."
He is the second Democrat to jump in the wide-open race to succeed Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who does not plan to run for re-election.
Baltimore County Del. Jon Cardin declared his candidacy last month, and Del. Aisha N. Braveboy of Prince George's County and Del. C. William Frick of Montgomery County have also said they plan to run. No Republicans have publicly stepped forward for the post, which serves as the law firm for state government and prosecutes certain environmental crimes and violations of consumer protection laws.
The last time a Republican was elected to the office was in 1918.
In the past, attorneys general have used the position as a platform — advocating for same-sex marriage or stricter laws against domestic violence.
"The AG's office is a bully pulpit, and I think I have the ability to use it as such," Frosh said.
For the past decade, Frosh, 66, has served as chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. A civil litigator by profession, he was elected to the Maryland General Assembly as a delegate in 1986 and as a senator in 1994.
While some view the attorney general's office as a possible stepping stone to a race for governor, Frosh — a generation older than his rivals — has said he has no interest in seeking that office.
Frosh said that longevity and his nearly three-decade career in the legislature, much of which has been in leadership, distinguishes him from the remaining field of candidates.
Before being appointed chairman of Judicial Proceedings, Frosh was known as the leading environmentalist in the Senate and had earned accolades in the House for a similar role. In his current post, he has been a leading advocate for gun control, same-sex marriage and abolition of the death penalty. This spring, he ushered Gov. Martin O'Malley's sweeping gun-control package through the Senate, incorporating some proposals Frosh had long pushed in the legislature.
Frosh is known as one of the most consistent liberals in the Senate, but is respected on both sides of the aisle for his willingness to listen to all points of view and for running his committee in an open manner.
He entered the year with the largest campaign account among the likely attorney general candidates. His January campaign finance report showed he had $390,000 in the bank, while Cardin had $170,000 and the other two expected candidates trailed far behind. Frosh has also secured the support of influential members of the party, including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.
Frosh plans to hold a campaign kickoff event in September. He is married to Marcy Masters Frosh and has two adult daughters.