Barbara A. Mikulski, a legend in Maryland Democratic politics and the state’s first female senator, endorsed former judge Katie Curran O’Malley in the competitive primary race to be attorney general.
The closely watched contest pits former allies against each other to succeed Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), who is retiring. Maryland has not elected a Republican attorney general since 1952.
Mikulski, a former U.S. senator, was the dean of the Democratic Party for decades before her retirement in 2017. She backed O’Malley over chief rival Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), who was lieutenant governor alongside O’Malley’s husband, former governor Martin O’Malley.
The endorsement comes on the heels of Brown collecting the coveted backing of the Maryland State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union with 76,000 members and a network of political activists.
Mikulski said the attorney general’s office deals with many issues that affect Maryland women, including reproductive rights and “equal pay for equal work.”
“It’s time that we elect an attorney general who understands those issues firsthand and who has the experience to move our state forward,” Mikulski said. “I believe that Katie is the right person — and the right woman — to do that.”
O’Malley was a Baltimore City District Court judge until she resigned in October for her first bid for public office. She’s also a former prosecutor.
Mikulski’s long relationship with the O’Malley family includes the governor’s late mother, Barbara A. O’Malley, who worked for Mikulski as a receptionist for 30 years.
O’Malley also picked up the endorsement this week from former chief judge Mary Ellen Barbera of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. Barbera, who retired in September, said in a statement that the women met when O’Malley was an assistant state’s attorney and praised O’Malley’s empathy with people navigating the criminal justice system.
Mikulski also endorsed Brooke Lierman in the Democratic primary race for comptroller.