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Brian Frosh for Maryland attorney general

10.13.2014

THE RACE for attorney general in Maryland this fall is widely billed as a mismatch, for good reason. The Democratic nominee, state Sen. Brian Frosh, is one of the most effective and admired lawmakers in Annapolis. The Republican candidate, Jeffrey N. Pritzker, a corporate lawyer, has a scant record of public service.

In any state legislature, substantive lawmakers tend to be at a premium amid an armada of showboats. In Annapolis, where he has served since 1987 — first as a delegate and, since 1995, in the Senate — Mr. Frosh has been a legislative work horse and a mainstay of decency, good sense and mainstream liberalism. He was the driving force behind bills to improve firearm safety, protect Maryland consumers and preserve the environment. Few lawmakers have done as much to promote the health of the Chesapeake Bay; push recycling and cleaner cars; and combat identity theft and teen drunken driving. Democrats and Republicans alike consider Mr. Frosh a touchstone on ethics issues.

Mr. Pritzker, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for attorney general in 2002, has a successful private law practice. Mindful of his status as an underdog, he says that he was driven to run this year in frustration that Democrats hold a monopoly on power in Annapolis and in indignation that no one has been held to account for the botched rollout of Maryland’s online health exchange last year.

Both are fair points, though neither detracts from Mr. Frosh’s appeal. The trouble with Mr. Pritzker’s candidacy is that his agenda and range of interests are narrow, defined mainly by what he opposes. Of the eight agenda items he lists on the "Issues" page of his Web site, four concern his opposition to various taxes. More in the attorney general’s purview, he wants to promote arbitration as an alternative to consumers suing businesses.

Mr. Pritzker is not alone in regarding Maryland’s tax regimen as an impediment to the state’s economic competitiveness. But we doubt that the office of attorney general, which functions as the law firm for the state and its agencies of government, is the right platform from which to launch an anti-tax crusade.

Mr. Frosh would manage the office well, with an emphasis on protecting children from exploitation, including in the cyberworld; enforcing gun laws; defeating scam artists preying on senior citizens; safeguarding the bay and other treasures of Maryland’s environment; and looking out for consumers. He is possessed of broad experience with these issues, a grasp of detail and a rare balance of toughness and civility. Mr. Frosh is the right person for the job.