Jon Cardin says he was victim of 'most negative smear campaign'

Baltimore County State Del. Jon S. Cardin, who lost the primary campaign for attorney general, says he was the victim of the "most negative smear campaign in a Democratic Party primary in Maryland's modern history."

In a Facebook post this week, Cardin, who runs his own law practice, also said he plans to return to private life, after losing last month to Montgomery County State Sen. Brian Frosh.


Frosh, whom Cardin calls a "good Democrat" in the post, will face Republican lawyer Jeffrey Pritzker in the general election.

Cardin received criticism during the primary campaign over his misuse of Baltimore police resources during a stunt wedding proposal; missing nearly 75 percent of his committee votes during the 2014 General Assembly session; and touting the endorsement of a Baltimore rapper facing human trafficking charges.

Some of these charges were made in negative mailers funded by labor unions that supported Frosh.

In a Facebook post shortly after the primary, Cardin called the campaign "disgustingly negative."  He also ran commercials before the election accusing Frosh of smearing him. This week, Cardin posted a message to Facebook that acknowledged that "even missing one vote is too many votes," but repeated his position that the votes weren't close and he missed them to spend more time with his family.

"If nothing else, I hope my loss illuminates on transcending a system where control and bullies trump transparency and principle," he wrote.

The Frosh campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


The entire text of Cardin's Facebook post is below:

July 29, 2014

Friends and Constituents of the 11th Legislative District:

For twelve years, I have had the honor of representing you in the House of Delegates. Thank you for putting your trust in me by electing me three times. This year, I ran for Attorney General and lost. For four weeks, I endured the most negative smear campaign seen in a Democratic Party primary in Maryland's modern history, including accusations that I neglected my duties in the House of Delegates. Given the election results, it is clear that many believed the accusations. I made a mistake by not responding directly to the allegations when they were made. Now, I would like to set the record straight.

Rather than focus on issues or qualifications, several personal attacks were made on me. By far, the most captivating negative attack was that I was a slacker, that I had missed "75% of the votes" in the General Assembly. This is politics; I should have expected the other side to create a disparaging and disingenuous narrative to stick against me. Even so, I put my work ethic up against anyone's in Annapolis. Over my 12 years in Annapolis, no one worked harder or tried to use his powers of persuasion to get legislative leaders to see alternative perspectives more than I. I was present for both Committee and House floor votes well-over 90% of the time, the 2014 session excepted.

This year, while I missed nearly no floor votes, no hearings, debates or amendments, I did miss nine committee voting sessions totaling 119 votes – all combined, less than 2 ½ hours of time. The majority of these voting sessions occurred after 5:00pm with an unprecedented three voting sessions late on Friday afternoons when I head home to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Each evening except one I was with my wife, dealing with serious pregnancy health matters and/or my two year old daughter while my wife went to the doctor alone. Needless to say, this was a difficult time for me and my family. The one voting session I missed, while not with family, I was in the community presenting legislative citations at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center and Maryland Israel Development Corporation.

As democrats, we have not only taken policy positions on more inclusion of men into nurturing responsibilities, but we actively champion legislation that requires male involvement in family matters. Ironically, when it came to demonstrating belief through modeling behavior, my party backers used it as a weapon to destroy me. As a working parent in a part-time citizen legislature, I balanced my family responsibilities with 119 non-controversial votes.


At the beginning of the legislative session, I informed my Chairwoman that I had made a commitment to spend as much time assisting my wife as possible while making sure my work as a legislator did not suffer. For this reason, my chair knew of my wife's pregnancy and medical issues long before even my parents or in-laws. I told her if she needed me for a close vote, I would be there. I kept that promise to both my family and my constituents. I cast over 2700 votes in the 2014 session, attended every hearing and 100% of my subcommittee meetings where we marked up the bills and voted on ALL amendments. Paradoxically, a campaign strategy that focused on sullying the Cardin name and work ethic was necessary because focusing on democratic issues and values, like expanding sick leave to attend to relatives, likely would have bolstered my actions.

With 2014 being the most successful session of my career, defining me as absent from work 75% of the time was a lie that effectively changed the narrative. In fact, my colleagues saw me in Annapolis every day, all day. I arrived daily at 6:30am and left at between 5 and 6pm. What I did not do is frequent the nightly dinners and corporate receptions that many of my colleagues enjoyed. To the contrary, on the nine nights our votes were stalled, I lingered as long as I could, quickly grabbed a kosher sandwich and soda that my per diem permitted and then rushed out. Nevertheless, I was further attacked for [allegedly unethical] management of my budget.

Meanwhile, my bills to go after cyber sexual harassment, protect citizens from election fraud, protect children from domestic violence and make teenagers true lifesavers with Breanna's Law are just a few of the issues that are making Maryland a better place for everyone. Again, it seems that few wanted to discuss these issues important in protecting Maryland's families, but rather they wanted to falsely define me as an absentee legislator. And it's disheartening this irony was not reported in the press.

I had hoped to bring my commitment to the protection of consumers, children and the environment to the Attorney General's Office. Instead, I will be returning to private life at the end of the year. I made a conscious decision to run a 100% positive campaign for Attorney General, trying to move Maryland forward and not towards the DC culture of gridlock, smear and negativism. I may have lost the election because of the way I tried to balance my work in the Annapolis, my commitment to my family, and my ethical campaign. But, I do not regret the decisions I made. As I look to the future, I hope to continue to advocate for the issues that were the hallmarks of my twelve years in the House of Delegates while fulfilling my roles as a husband and father.

Here's the bottom line: Even missing one vote is missing too many votes. I tried hard to balance my family responsibilities with my public responsibilities and remain quite proud of the work I did on behalf of my constituents. I am a positive person driven to fight against control-driven bullies who lack the confidence to permit the voiceless to be heard. It was an honor to serve on behalf of the citizens of Maryland, and it was a responsibility that I did not take lightly. Maryland needs ethical, independent thinkers to bring democracy, balance, fairness, dignity and respect to public service. If nothing else, I hope my loss illuminates on transcending a system where control and bullies trump transparency and principle.

I am committed to the the principles of the Democratic party and hope that Brian Frosh, a good democrat, prevails so that our vision for a better Maryland is realized



Jon S. Cardin