The Washington Post

Trial lawyers back Brown for Maryland governor

Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown speaks to supporters as he kicks off his campaign for governor at Prince George's Community College in Largo on May 10. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) on Tuesday picked up an early endorsement of his 2014 gubernatorial bid from the state’s trial lawyers association.

The Maryland Association for Justice said in a statement that its political action committee was backing Brown over Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and others jockeying to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) next year.

“He has exhibited good judgment for almost 15 years as a delegate and lieutenant governor, said Bruce Plaxen, chairman of association’s PAC, said of Brown. Plaxen cited Brown’s help in resisting legislative efforts to limit payments to plaintiffs as one way in which he’s been helpful.

The association represents about 1,500 trial lawyers in Maryland, and its backing could help Brown with fundraising. His early efforts in that area have lagged far behind those of Gansler, who has yet to make his run for governor official.

Candidates who have received the group’s endorsement in the past, including O’Malley, have benefited from multiple fundraisers hosted by its members.

Brown, a Harvard-educated lawyer who launched his campaign for governor this month, is likely to face a competitive field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in June 2014.

Besides Gansler, Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) is gearing up to run, and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), a former Baltimore County executive, also is looking at joining the race.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) has also been eyeing a run, but he has has been in talks with Brown about joining his ticket as the lieutenant governor candidate.

The race could attract a half-dozen GOP candidates in a state where Democrats hold a 2-to-1 advantage in party registration and where only one GOP gubernatorial candidate — former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. — has prevailed in the past generation.

Two hopefuls — Harford County Executive David R. Craig (R) and Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel) — are expected to announce their candidacies next week.

Other Republicans looking at the race include: Blaine R. Young, president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners; Larry Hogan, a former Ehrlich Cabinet member who leads the group Change Maryland; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate last year; and Charles Lollar, a businessman who ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in 2010.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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