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Brian Frosh elected Maryland attorney general

11.05.2014

State Sen. Brian E. Frosh was easily elected Maryland’s next attorney general Tuesday night, defeating Republican Jeffrey Pritzker and Libertarian Leo Dymowski by wide margins.

The lanky liberal lawmaker from Bethesda spent nearly three decades in the General Assembly before deciding to make a run to become the state’s top lawyer. He came from behind during a bitter three-way primary to win the Democratic nomination in June.

As attorney general, Frosh (D) will lead an army of attorneys responsible for defending the state government in court and enforcing many of the laws he helped enact during his tenure as chair of the powerful Judicial Proceedings Committee. In unofficial returns, Frosh defeated Pritzker by 14 points.

He said his priorities will be to protect consumers, ensure equal opportunity for all state residents and protect the environment. But above all, Frosh said his focus will be “providing good counsel to the governor and his government agency heads” and to fight “for the same things I fought for in the General Assembly: justice.”

Frosh added in a brief interview Tuesday night that he is relieved to reach the end of his journey saying, “I’m kind of numb but it feels great. I’m tired and happy.”

Although favored from the start by party leaders, Frosh initially trailed one of his primary rivals, Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County), by double digits. Cardin, the nephew of popular U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) benefited from the statewide familiarity of his family’s name.

Frosh also was competing against Del. C. William Frick (Montgomery County) — who eventually dropped out— and a promising Prince Georgian, Del. Aisha N. Braveboy, who had support among black voters.

Frosh is a generation older than his primary opponents and, supporters said, brought an unmatched level of experience in civil and criminal justice.

Frosh has helped pass major pieces of legislation, including legalizing same-sex marriage, establishing strict gun control and abolishing the death penalty.

“The things that matter to Democratic voters are things I worked on in my entire legislative career,” he said.

But bragging wasn’t Frosh’s style — at least until he found himself trailing Cardin.

Frosh had to do things he had never done before — such as appearing on television and speaking frequently on radio — to boost his candidacy. He had to sell himself as the people’s champion.

In three bruising debates , Frosh abandoned his usual soft-spokenness to trade barbs with Cardin over the junior lawmaker’s missed committee votes and other controversies. Frosh forcefully pointed out the role he played in crafting key laws.

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III were among the party leaders who stumped for Frosh and isolated Cardin, who later said he was the victim of a “smear campaign.”

Money for attack ads rolled in and helped Frosh to close the gap.

In the end, he won all of the major voting districts in the primary.

With little challenge posed by his opponents for the general election, he spent the past few months campaigning for other Democratic candidates on the ballot.