Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown won the race for Maryland attorney general, becoming the first Black person elected to the office.
The Associated Press called the race for Brown at 11:09 p.m., after the congressman maintained a sizable lead over Republican Michael Peroutka in the hours after polls closed.
Brown will succeed the state’s current chief legal officer, Brian Frosh, a Democrat who served two terms as attorney general and did not run for reelection.
His victory comes on a historic night for the state, which elected its first Black governor in Democrat Wes Moore.
A heavy favorite, Brown told a jubilant crowd gathered for the Democrats’ election night party that he accepted the “responsibility and privilege” of being attorney general.
“While the campaign is over, our work has just begun,” Brown said. “As we look to the future, we’ve got a big job to do. Our job is to deliver, deliver good schools, safe neighborhoods, affordable health care, a clean environment, a level playing field in the workplace and in the marketplace, and a justice system that is free of bias.”
With an estimated 75% of votes counted at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday, Brown led Peroutka 61% to 39%.
Peroutka’s run was considered a long shot, with Maryland last electing a Republican attorney general more than a century ago. He did not return multiple requests for comment.
The race pitted Brown’s mainstream Democratic values against the far-right views of Peroutka, with the candidates at odds over something so fundamental as which laws to enforce if elected. While Brown pledged to uphold the state’s law, Peroutka, a retired debt-collecting attorney who advocated for southern secession as a board member of the white nationalist hate group League of the South, promised to adhere to “God’s law.”
On the campaign trail, the congressman expressed a commitment to ensuring access to abortion and stemming gun violence.
Maryland Policy & Politics
After claiming victory, Brown touted his decades of public service, including his almost three decades in the military.
No stranger to high-level politics, Brown was lieutenant governor for eight years under then-Gov. Martin O’Malley. Hand-picked by O’Malley to replace him, Brown lost to Republican Larry Hogan, who is completing his second, four-year term.
A Harvard Law graduate and retired Army Reserve colonel, Brown served as a JAG officer. He was a state delegate representing Prince George’s County for two terms before becoming lieutenant governor. After his unsuccessful bid for governor, he was elected to Congress in 2017. Brown represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties.
He announced his candidacy for attorney general last fall and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Peroutka. Brown has advocated for a ban on untraceable ghost guns and exploring the creation of a special court to handle low-level gun cases more efficiently, which he believes will serve as a deterrent for more serious crimes.
Brown said he would dedicate requisite resources to implement a “local crime-fighting strategy” in Baltimore.
The attorney general provides legal advice to state agencies and represents the state in court. The chief legal officer makes a salary of $149,500.
Baltimore Sun reporter Hannah Gaskill contributed to this article.