The four Democratic candidates running for attorney general of Maryland sought to distinguish themselves based on experience and vision in a forum Thursday at which there was broad agreement on many of the policy issues they would face in office.
Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) and Dels. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George’s), Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County) and C. William Frick (D-Montgomery) all spoke of the need for stepped-up enforcement of environmental laws, vigorous consumer protections and a stronger commitment to ensuring indigent defendants are represented by lawyers.
Toward the end of an hour-long event the University of Maryland Carey School of Law in Baltimore, however, the 2014 hopefuls were given a chance to talk about what might set them apart.
“There isn’t much difference among us on the issues, and the question you have to decide is who among us is best prepared and best qualified,” said Frosh, a 19-year veteran of the Senate and chairman of its Judicial Proceedings Committee, which has had jurisdiction over gun-control, death penalty and same-sex marriage legislation in recent years.
Frosh touted not only his work in the legislature, but also high-profile endorsements he has received from former governors Harry R. Hughes (D) and Parris N. Glendening (D), as well as former attorneys general Stephen H. Sachs (D) and J. Joseph Curran (D).
“They know that I would be the people’s lawyer,” Frosh said. “They know that I would fight for justice.”
Frick, a second-term delegate who shares a legislative district with Frosh, portrayed his lack of support from the party establishment as a virtue, arguing that he’s “not afraid to be an underdog.”
“I am someone, who if you look at my record, has fought the battles that need to be fought, whether it was for marriage equality or for Wall Street reform,” Frick said. “I am someone who would wake up every day with this office and use these powers to make this a more just world.”
Frick cited several examples of the kind of advocates he would emulate, including former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Cardin, a three-term delegate who chairs a House elections law subcommittee, argued that he was best-suited to modernize the role of the attorney general.
“Maryland has been blessed with some fantastic attorneys general,” Cardin said. “The real question is, what are we going to face that they have not?”
He shared that his daughter, who is nearly 2 years old, played music on his wife’s iphone before she could walk and now has a relationship with her grandparents over Skype.
“This is the kind of new world that are children are wired to and that they’re growing up in,” Cardin said. “Whether it be cyber-bullying or phishing scams, voter ID laws or climate change or revenge porn, these represent a broad range of issues that are the next frontier with which our next attorney general is going to have to contend.”
Braveboy, a second-term delegate who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, said she would use the office of attorney general “ to combat mass incarceration.”
“It is one of the most important issues of our time,” Braveboy said. “We must not continue to warehouse people in our state, especially for low-level offenses, like low-level marijuana offenses. It is absolutely ridiculous that we arrest and incarcerate thousands of people every year for what for most people is a health issue, and it should be treated as such.”
The four Democrats are seeking to succeed Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who is running for governor. No Republicans have announced for the office.