Recently retired Baltimore Judge Catherine ‘Katie’ Curran O’Malley opens campaign committee, explores attorney general run

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Recently retired Baltimore Judge Catherine “Katie” Curran O’Malley formed a campaign committee Monday, a first step toward a possible run for attorney general.

O’Malley, 59, is a Democrat who spent two decades as a Baltimore District Court judge and worked as a Baltimore County prosecutor before that.


If she decides to get into the race, she’d be the second high-profile Democrat to run in the wake of current Attorney General Brian Frosh announcing plans to retire at the end of his term. Anthony G. Brown, currently a congressman and formerly lieutenant governor, already has launched a campaign.

“The job of Maryland attorney general is really important right now, because our country and our state is at a critical crossroads,” O’Malley said in a brief interview Monday, citing threats to democracy and the planet’s future as key challenges.


O’Malley said the attorney general is “the people’s lawyer,” and it’s important for Maryland to elect a Democrat who will fight for the environment and equal justice. She said her experience as a judge and a lawyer, working in courtrooms for three decades, has shown her how the law can help people, and also how the law can fall short.

“I understand the laws because I’ve been in the courtrooms and seen how they are applied,” she said.

O’Malley, who stepped down from the bench in late October, said she’s been talking to family and friends about whether to run, conversations that will continue in the coming weeks. She plans to announce a decision by Christmas.

“So far I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement,” said O’Malley, who earned her law degree from the University of Baltimore and a bachelor’s degree from what is now Towson University.

Opening a campaign committee, Catherine Curran O’Malley for Maryland, allows O’Malley to raise and spend money while she prepares for a potential campaign.

Most important in her decision-making process is having full support from her family — a family that has been through plenty of elections before. O’Malley is married to former Democratic mayor, governor and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley. And her father, J. Joseph Curran Jr., was a Democratic state senator and lieutenant governor, and served as state attorney general from 1987 until 2007.

Should O’Malley enter the race, she’d end up facing off in a primary against her husband’s former political partner, Brown, who was lieutenant governor alongside Martin O’Malley for eight years.

Other Democrats are considering entering the race as well.


In an interview, Sen. William C. Smith Jr. said he’s been weighing his options. The Montgomery County Democrat serves as chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, which reviews high-profile legislation on legal matters ranging from gun rights to criminal justice reform.

“I think you can do some amazing things in the attorney general’s office,” Smith said. “You can also do amazing things in the Maryland Senate, so there’s a lot to consider.”

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Sounding like a candidate, Smith said: “One consistent message I’m hearing is Marylanders are hungry for inspired leadership and vision, and not necessarily a retread of the past.”

Del. Jon Cardin, a Baltimore County Democrat, said he’s considering a run, too. He finished second in the 2014 Democratic primary for attorney general behind Frosh.

Cardin said Brown and O’Malley are both strong candidates.

“Those are two people who will make it an interesting challenge,” he said.


Gaithersburg City Councilman Ryan Spiegel, who recently led the Maryland Municipal League as president, said he’s also a “serious maybe” as a potential candidate for attorney general.

One Republican has filed already to run for attorney general: Jim Shalleck, an attorney in private practice who previously chaired the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

The deadline for candidates to submit candidacy paperwork for the 2022 election is Feb. 22. Primary elections begin with early voting starting June 16 and end with election day voting on June 28.