Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) picked up an endorsement Tuesday from former president Bill Clinton, adding some star power to a list of other Democrats who have announced their backing of Brown’s gubernatorial bid.
In a statement, Clinton called Brown “uniquely qualified to lead Maryland,” and the Brown campaign announced that the former president would visit Maryland next month to voice his support in person.
Brown faces Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery) in the June Democratic primary in the race to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who is term-limited.
Aides said Brown struck up a friendship with Clinton in 2000, when the then-president attended a signing ceremony in Annapolis for a Maryland gun-safety law as part of an effort to highlight state actions on that issue. Brown was a state delegate representing part of Prince George’s County at the time.
In 2008, Brown endorsed the presidential bid of Hillary Rodham Clinton and traveled to several states to campaign on her behalf, doing events with both Clintons.
Gansler often talks on the campaign trail about his decision to endorse President Obama in the 2008 primaries and co-chair his campaign in Maryland.
In his statement, Clinton cited Brown’s work as lieutenant governor on several issues, including job creation, health care, gun control, domestic violence and school spending.
“Anthony Brown’s lengthy record of public service to our nation and the state of Maryland is a powerful testament to his character and leadership,” Clinton said.
Brown said he was proud to have Clinton’s support.
The endorsement was announced as both Brown and Gansler attended the first bill signing ceremony after the 2014 legislative session, which concluded at midnight Monday. O’Malley signed an initial batch of more than 100 bills.
In a move that highlighted the jockeying between Brown and Gansler, both appeared in the photograph that accompanied a bill expanding pre-kindergarten education — an issue both have made a priority on the campaign trail.
The bill was sponsored by O’Malley, who delegated much of the lobbying work on it to Brown.
In the early stages of the gubernatorial campaign, Brown has racked up a lengthy list of Democratic supporters, including O’Malley, both of the state’s U.S. senators and both of the legislature’s presiding officers.
Gansler has sought to turn that support against Brown, accusing him of being beholden to the Democratic “establishment” in Annapolis.
In a statement Tuesday, Gansler said he has a “tremendous amount of respect” for Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“Let me make clear that when I am governor, I will be strongly supporting Hillary Clinton for president, should she choose to run,” Gansler said.