U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Maryland attorney general, defeating former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley of Baltimore.
The Associated Press called the race for Brown, who led by 60% to 40% of votes counted, early Wednesday.
“A heartfelt thank you to Maryland voters for putting their faith in me,” Brown tweeted early Wednesday morning. “An attorney general can either be a champion for progress or a defender of the status quo. I’m running for attorney general to dismantle barriers because the status quo isn’t working for Marylanders.”
If elected in November, Brown would become the state’s first Black attorney general.
Maryland has not elected a Republican as attorney general since 1918.
Brown thanked O’Malley for her years of public service, writing on social media that the pair will work together to “create a more just and equitable [Maryland] for all.”
O’Malley did not concede Tuesday night, but said in an earlier statement that she was “cautiously optimistic” as there were precincts that remained uncounted, in addition to mail-in ballots that can’t be opened and counted until Thursday.
“This has been an amazing campaign, and I am energized by all of my supporters and my family,” she said.
In the Republican race, Michael Peroutka, a former Anne Arundel County councilman, won with 58% of the votes counted so far, compared with 42% for Jim Shalleck, an attorney from Montgomery County.
Brown, who represents parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, collected more than 60,000 votes in Prince George’s. He also fared better than O’Malley in her hometown of Baltimore, where she was a judge for 20 years. Brown also led in the Baltimore suburban counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford.
O’Malley had sought to follow in her father’s footsteps as attorney general: Democrat J. Joseph Curran served in the office from 1987 to 2007.
During the course of the campaign, the candidates sparred over each other’s experience, each boasting they were best qualified to become the state’s top prosecutor and replace longtime incumbent Democrat Brian Frosh.
The Democrats mostly agreed on key policy issues and shared ties to former Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. Brown served as his lieutenant governor, while Katie O’Malley is his spouse.
Maryland Policy & Politics
Both Katie O’Malley and Brown expressed support for strengthening consumer and environmental protections, restricting gun purchases and expanding the agency’s involvement on criminal prosecution and police accountability. Both said they supported legalizing recreational cannabis and said they would support expanded legal protections for tenants facing evictions.
The two differed on some issues, including which office should prosecute shootings by police. The Attorney General’s Office last year became responsible for investigating all police-involved fatalities, and at times, has clashed with local law enforcement over the investigations. While the legislature changed who investigates officer-involved shootings, it stopped short of requiring the attorney general’s office to prosecute such cases, and left the responsibility to local prosecutors.
Brown said local state’s attorneys should have first right of refusal on whether to prosecute, while O’Malley said the attorney general’s office should prosecute such cases alone or jointly with a state’s attorney’s office.
The campaign became more aggressive in the weeks leading to primary day. Brown, on Twitter, accused O’Malley of “mudslinging” in a TV ad that started airing June 24. O’Malley criticized Brown, saying he had never tried a criminal case in Maryland and does not have “the right experience” to be attorney general.
After nearly three decades as an attorney, Brown has been a part of at least five trials — all of them civil cases, a review of online state and federal court records showed. O’Malley is a former prosecutor, working 10 years as an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore County, and then serving two decades as a judge in Baltimore District Court.
An ad from VoteVets Political Action Committee, a political PAC supporting progressive candidates with military experience, criticized O’Malley for dismissing Brown’s experience as a lawyer in the U.S. Army.
Baltimore Sun reporter Lee O. Sanderlin contributed to this article.