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U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown launching campaign for Maryland attorney general

U.S. Rep. Anthony G. Brown, a Prince George’s County Democrat and former lieutenant governor, will run for attorney general of Maryland next year.

Brown, 59, is the first major Democratic candidate to jump into the race to replace outgoing Attorney General Brian Frosh, who announced Friday that he will retire at the end of his current term and not seek reelection.

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A three-term congressman who represents most of Prince George’s County and a small portion of Anne Arundel County, Brown said he’s long eyed the attorney general’s post and hopes to carry on Frosh’s work as the state’s top lawyer.

Brown’s decision to run for statewide office will touch off an open race to fill his congressional seat. The majority-Black district, which snakes from northern Anne Arundel County all the way down to the Potomac River, is overwhelmingly Democratic and is almost certain to remain so even after state lawmakers finish redrawing Maryland’s election maps following the 2020 census.

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U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat from Prince George's County, speaks at a "Rally for the Rights of RNs and Patients" in July 2019. Brown will run for attorney general of Maryland next year.
U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat from Prince George's County, speaks at a "Rally for the Rights of RNs and Patients" in July 2019. Brown will run for attorney general of Maryland next year. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun on Sunday, Brown pointed to his experience as a state and federal lawmaker as well as his work in the O’Malley administration as strong qualifications for the job as attorney general.

“I’m running for attorney general today ... because I think that Maryland needs to have a skilled advocate and experienced leader to enforce the laws, to protect Marylanders and their rights, benefits and opportunities,” Brown said. “I think I bring the skills you need to be effective as attorney general.”

Frosh, 75, gained national attention and a reputation as something of a liberal legal crusader for his repeated lawsuits against former President Donald Trump’s Republican administration.

Brown cited those efforts — which included challenges to Trump’s personal business dealings and efforts to block immigration policies and rollbacks of environmental regulations — as an assertive model he’d continue to follow if elected to replace Frosh.

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Republican Jim Shalleck, a former prosecutor and elections official from Montgomery County, is the only other current declared candidate running for attorney general in 2022. But other Democrats are expected to consider a potential run, including Montgomery County state Sen. William C. Smith Jr., the current chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Brown, a Harvard-educated attorney, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former state delegate, spent eight years as the state’s lieutenant governor under Democrat Martin O’Malley. He won the Democratic nomination to succeed O’Malley as governor in 2014 but lost in the general election to Republican Larry Hogan.

Brown turned around and won a crowded Democratic primary in 2016 to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards — who gave up the seat to launch an unsuccessful Senate bid — and then cruised to victory in the general election.

He expressed pride in his office’s accomplishments over his 2 1/2 terms so far but said he felt best-suited to the post of attorney general. Brown had launched tentative a campaign for the post in 2006 before O’Malley, then the mayor of Baltimore, asked him to be his running mate instead.

“Now it’s time, particularly with Brian’s retirement, to make sure the people of Maryland are well served with the chief legal officer,” Brown said. “I’m looking forward to that important responsibility.”

When asked about his loss to Hogan in the 2014 governor’s race — seen by many Democrats as a major blow, given the party’s typical political advantage in statewide races — Brown called “winning and losing part of what happens in elected office.”

“For me, it’s not about titles, it’s not about perceived perks or privileges of the job. For me, it’s an opportunity to serve the people of Maryland and put my skills and abilities to the highest use,” Brown said. “We’re going to run a strong campaign, we’ll apply the lessons learned from 2014 — what we did well, what we need to do differently — and run a confidently strong campaign.”

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