June 13

WITH EVERY passing week, the mismatch on the merits grows wider in the Democratic primary race for attorney general in Maryland.

State Sen. Brian E. Frosh of Montgomery County, among the most admired lawmakers in Annapolis, continues to rack up encomiums and endorsements from colleagues, citizens and advocacy groups whose causes — gun control, gay rights, the environment — owe much of their success in Maryland to him.

Meanwhile, Del. Jon S. Cardin of Baltimore County, a lackluster backbencher, continues to suffer slights and self-inflicted wounds.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) recently announced his support of Mr. Frosh’s candidacy. That was a slight surprise; after all, Mr. O’Malley might have elected to stay silent, perhaps wishing to avoid giving offense to U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) — Jon Cardin’s uncle. But the governor, who has counted on Mr. Frosh as the Senate’s point man on some of the most important legislation enacted during his administration, added his name to that of scores of other elected officials, past and present, who are backing Mr. Frosh.

Endorsements on their own may or may not be meaningful, but the overwhelming one-sidedness in this race reflects the reality that Mr. Frosh, as chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, has been a general at the front lines of many of the most important legislative fights, while Mr. Cardin has often been absent — quite literally.


COLLEGE PARK, MD – MAY 19: State Sen. Brian E. Frosh, seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, participates in a debate at University of Maryland. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

The Baltimore Sun reported last month that Mr. Cardin, a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House, skipped 121 out of 164 committee votes. He even missed votes on bills that he co-sponsored.

Then came news that, despite his disappearing act in Annapolis for evening sessions, Mr. Cardin still claimed $2,688 in meal reimbursements during the most recent 90-day legislative session, which ended in April. Gleeful Republicans called for an ethics investigation. At about the same time, the Central Baltimore County Democratic Club, consisting of loyal party members in Mr. Cardin’s own district, endorsed Mr. Frosh.

For years Mr. Cardin was best known for enlisting the aid of a Baltimore City police helicopter to impress his girlfriend when he proposed to her. He later apologized and paid restitution to the city. Last week he welcomed and then hurriedly rejected the endorsement of a Baltimore hip-hop artist known as Ski Money who turned out to be facing charges on multiple counts of human trafficking and prostitution. The two met at a Cardin fundraiser hosted by a disbarred entertainment lawyer — an odd choice for a candidate for the state’s top legal job.

A recent Washington Post poll showed Mr. Frosh and Mr. Cardin in a close race, while a third candidate, Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George’s), trailed with 13 percent. That is above where Mr. Cardin likely would be if not for his family name. We hope voters take a close look at the records and abilities of the candidates.