MD-AG: While Rep. Anthony Brown has looked like the favorite to win the Democratic primary for attorney general almost since he startled some observers by announcing his statewide bid to succeed retiring incumbent Brian Frosh in October, a new poll from Goucher College shows a tossup race with three weeks to go before the July 19 primary. The school, surveying for The Baltimore Banner and WYPR, finds former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley edging out Brown 30-29. The only other recent poll we’ve seen was from OpinionWorks in early June, and it had the congressman ahead 42-29. O’Malley would be the first woman to serve as attorney general, while Brown would be the first African American to win this post.
Both candidates have been campaigning as ardent progressives in this blue state, where the GOP hasn’t won an attorney general election since 1918, but O’Malley was the first to go negative on TV last week. (The Washington Post says that no other Democratic statewide candidates, including the many contenders for governor, “had released an ad directly targeting a primary opponent this year.) Curran O’Malley uses her commercial to begin by discussing her “30 years of experience” as a prosecutor and judge, adding, “Now I’m running to be Maryland’s first attorney general.”
Curran O’Malley then declares, “My opponent, Anthony 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.” Brown will have the resources to respond, as he held a $1.2 million to $840,000 cash-on-hand lead on June 7.
Curran O’Malley and Brown have both long been prominent figures in Old Line State politics. Curran O’Malley, who was a district court judge in Baltimore from 2001 until she stepped down last year, became first lady of Maryland after her husband, Martin O’Malley, was elected governor in 2006, and she held that post for the following eight years. (Curran O’Malley prohibited from campaigning for him during this time or taking part in other partisan activities.)
Brown, for his part, was O'Malley's running mate in 2006, and their victory made him the first Black Democrat to serve as Maryland's lieutenant governor. (This item incorrectly stated that Brown was the first Black person to hold this post; Republican Michael Steele achieved that distinction four years before.) Brown sought the top job in 2014 when his boss was termed-out, but he lost the general election to Republican Larry Hogan in an upset. However, Brown recovered from that much derided campaign two years later by winning a House seat in the D.C. suburbs, and a primary triumph next month would make him one of the state’s top politicos again.