Much of the day-to-day work of Maryland's attorney general involves managing a legion of attorneys who provide counsel and legal advice to state government agencies large and small and to various boards and commissions. Nonetheless, the job is not to serve the governor or his administration but the citizens of this state, who expect an independent advocate.
Given the breadth and importance of the office, voters would be wise to elect someone with broad experience in the myriad issues that must be addressed by attorneys general, from consumer protection to civil rights, securities fraud to criminal appeals. One day you may be arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and the next you may be filing suit against tobacco companies on behalf of their victims.
Sen. Brian E. Frosh is about as close to a perfect fit for the job as anyone who has run for the office. Not simply because he is an experienced and savvy attorney (although the 68-year-old Columbia Law School graduate is all of that) nor because he served in the legislature, having represented Montgomery County in the House of Delegates for two terms and in the Senate for five. But most particularly because as chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, he has shaped Maryland law as much as anyone over the past decade. He understands the complexities, the nuance, the history, the conflicts and the legislative intent behind statute after statute.
But even more than that, the Bethesda native has cultivated a reputation within the State House as a straight shooter, a person of substance and principle and, yes, an independent-minded lawyer whose views on the big-picture topics from women's reproductive rights to the need for sensible gun control laws and the importance of environmental protection are shared by the vast majority of Maryland residents. He is, in short, someone who can be trusted with this important job.
Mr. Frosh's opponents are simply not in the same league. Towson attorney Jeffrey Pritzker, 65, the Republican nominee, has focused his campaign primarily on making Maryland more business friendly, a notion that dovetails with the message from gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan at the top of the Republican ticket but ignores the historic role of Maryland's attorney general as someone who stands up for the interests of consumers and the least powerful in society. Libertarian Leo Dymowski has used his candidacy as a platform for his views regarding the nation's failed war on drugs and the need to legalize marijuana and other narcotics. A Maryland Parole Commission hearing officer, he has first-hand knowledge of the harm modern-day prohibition has wrought, particularly on the poor and minorities, and while his remedy may be immoderate, his concerns are certainly legitimate.
Outgoing Attorney General Douglas Gansler has done a commendable job in office, particularly in staking out his independence on matters from same-sex marriage to campaign finance reform in a manner that didn't always please the Democratic establishment, yet he avoided the role of publicity-seeking gadfly spouting off to reporters at every opportunity, as some feared he would. We would expect Senator Frosh, an often low-key, self-effacing presence in Annapolis, to continue that legacy with a thoughtful, measured approach to improving the lives of everyday Marylanders.
Across the country, we have seen too many attorneys general try to use the job as a springboard to higher office. Often, this involves playing to extremist views — the irrational attacks against climate change research by Ken Cuccinelli of Virginia come to mind. (Mercifully, the science-averse lawyer's bid to become Virginia's governor was turned away by voters last year.) Mr. Frosh is not that type and has pledged not to seek higher office, preferring to see the job of attorney general as the capstone to an honorable career in public service.
In a year when some voters have felt an obligation to hold their nose as they cast their ballot, it is a modest comfort to recognize that the attorney general race requires nothing of the sort. We are proud to support Mr. Frosh for attorney general and strongly advise Maryland voters to do the same on November 4.