Anthony G. Brown (D), a three-term congressman and two-term lieutenant governor under Martin O’Malley, defeated former judge Katy Curran O’Malley in Maryland’s Democratic primary election for attorney general, according to projections from the Associated Press.
The victory positions Brown to make history as Maryland’s first Black attorney general if he is elected in November, an outcome that appears to be a strong possibility. A Republican was appointed attorney general in 1952, but no Republican has been elected Maryland’s attorney general since 1919.
Brown will take on Michael Peroutka who defeated Jim Shalleck in the Republican primary, according to projections by the Associated Press.
“I’m ecstatic,” Brown said early Wednesday morning. “We were in it for the long haul. We knew it was a competitive race. I was confident we were going to be successful and quite frankly I’m pleasantly surprised that some of the outlets have called this so soon.”
A spokesperson for Peroutka did not respond to a request for comment following the projection by the Associated Press early Wednesday morning that he had won the race.
Brown and O’Malley both emphasized public safety and crime during their campaigns and said they would work to protect civil rights and abortion rights in Maryland. They also said they wanted to enshrine the protections of Roe v. Wade in Maryland’s constitution.
In an interview last month, Brown said the attorney general should also assume a key role in tackling gun control, strengthening environmental regulations and prosecuting polluters.
Brown, 60, received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and served as a military lawyer in the Army and Army Reserve for 30 years before retiring as a colonel.
In 2006, after eight years in the Maryland House of Delegates, he was elected lieutenant governor on a ticket with Martin O’Malley and served for eight years. Brown ran for governor in 2014 but lost to Larry Hogan (R). In 2016 he was elected to the U.S. Congress representing Maryland’s 4th District and has served there since 2017.
A graduate of Towson University and the University of Baltimore School of Law, O’Malley, 59, has 30 years of experience working as an assistant state’s attorney, heading the white-collar crime unit and serving as a Baltimore district judge. The race for attorney general was her first run for elected office. Her father, J. Joseph Curran Jr., served a term as lieutenant governor and 20 years as Maryland’s attorney general.
O’Malley had criticized Brown in campaign ads and literature for what she said was a lack of courtroom and trial experience. “My opponent, Anthony G. Brown, is a fine congressman, but he’s never tried a criminal case in Maryland and he doesn’t have the right experience for this job,” she said in one of her commercials.
The attack appears not to have resonated enough with voters to discourage them from supporting Brown. He emphasized his legal background as well as his political acumen in building partnerships and working with a wide range of legislators, political leaders and constituents.
The idea that “having extensive trial experience is a key feature for being the attorney general, I would submit you don’t understand the responsibilities of the office or the organization of the office,” Brown said in June about O’Malley’s ad.
The race against O’Malley was expected to be close but there was a lot of uncertainty as Election Day approached. Though a Goucher College poll released in late June showed a tie between Brown and O’Malley, 35 percent of voters said they were undecided about who should replace Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), who announced he wouldn’t seek reelection last year after two terms in office.
In the Republican contest for attorney general, many voters appeared to have made up their minds in the final weeks of the campaign. In the Goucher College poll released late last month almost 70 percent of Republican voters said they were undecided on whether to choose Shalleck, a longtime prosecutor and former president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, or Peroutka, an attorney and former Anne Arundel County Council member.
Peroutka ran on a conservative platform that highlighted five key issues including opposing abortion rights, protecting gun rights and prosecuting “public officials who have exceeded their lawful authority and have violated the God-given, constitutionally protected, liberties of Marylanders.”
In 2004, Peroutka ran for president under the Constitution Party, which promotes conservative religious views.
Peroutka is the founder of the Pasadena, Md.-based Institute on the Constitution which advocates on its website for an “American view of government” which is composed of three tenets: “There is a God. Our rights come from Him. The purpose of civil government is to secure and protect our God-given rights.”
Shalleck, who served as a local, state and federal prosecutor for 24 years, resigned from the elections board a year ago to focus on the 2022 race. He has practiced law in a private firm in Montgomery County since 1994. Shalleck ran for Montgomery County executive in 2014, but lost to Democratic incumbent Isiah Leggett.
In his campaign for attorney general, Shalleck focused on going after violent and repeat offenders, increasing funding and support for police, protecting victims’ rights and prosecuting polluters.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly said no Republican had been elected Maryland’s attorney general since 1952. The story has been corrected to say that a Republican was appointed attorney general in 1952, but no Republican has been elected Maryland’s attorney general since 1919.