Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown claims victory in Maryland attorney general race; poised to be first Black person to hold post

Nicole Munchel & Matthew Cole/Baltimore Sun/TNS

Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown claimed victory Tuesday night in the race for Maryland attorney general, positioning himself to become the first Black person to hold the office.

Brown maintained a sizeable lead over Republican Michael Peroutka in the hours after polls closed, though the race had not been officially called. The winner will succeed the state’s current chief legal officer, Brian Frosh, a Democrat who served two terms as attorney general and did not run for reelection.

A heavy favorite, Brown told a jubilant crowd gathered for a Democrat election night party that he accepted the “responsibility and privilege” of being attorney general.

“While the campaign is over, our work has just begun,” Brown said. “As we look to the future, we’ve got a big job to do. Our job is to deliver, deliver good schools, safe neighborhoods, affordable healthcare, a clean environment, a level playing field in the workplace and in the marketplace, and a justice system that is free of bias.”

More than two hours after the congressman claimed victory, his lead over Peroutka stood at about 280,000 votes, according to the state Board of Elections. Buoyed by a substantial haul of ballots cast early and by mail, Brown garnered about 60% of the vote to Peroutka’s 40%%, with more than 90% of election-day precincts reporting as of 11:20 p.m.

Peroutka’s run was considered a long shot, with Maryland last electing a Republican attorney general more than a century ago. He did not return multiple requests for comment.

This attorney general race pitted Brown’s mainstream Democratic values against the far-right views of Peroutka, with the candidates at odds over something so fundamental as which laws to enforce if elected.

While Brown pledged to uphold the state’s law, Peroutka, a retired debt-collecting attorney who advocated for southern secession as a board member of the white nationalist hate group League of the South, promised to adhere to “God’s law.”

On the campaign trail, the congressman expressed a commitment to ensuring access to abortion and stemming gun violence.

After claiming victory, Brown touted his decades of public service, including his almost three decades in the military.

No stranger to high-level politics, Brown was lieutenant governor for eight years under then-Gov. Martin O’Malley. Hand-picked by O’Malley to replace him, Brown lost to Republican Larry Hogan.

In the Democratic primary, Brown faced a familiar face: retired District Court Judge Katie Curran O’Malley. Despite the two campaigning on practically indistinguishable platforms, Brown cruised to a comfortable victory over the wife of his former running mate.

A Harvard Law graduate and retired Army Reserve colonel, Brown served as a JAG officer. He was a state delegate representing Prince George’s County for two terms before becoming lieutenant governor. Years after his unsuccessful bid for governor, he was elected to Congress in 2017. Brown represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties.

He announced his candidacy for attorney general last fall and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more than Peroutka. Brown has advocated for a ban on untraceable ghost guns and exploring the creation of a special court to handle low-level gun cases more efficiently, which he believes will serve as a deterrent for more serious crimes.

Brown said he would dedicate requisite resources to implement a “local crime-fighting strategy” in Baltimore.

The attorney general provides legal advice to state agencies and represents the state in court. The chief legal officer makes a salary of $149,500.

Sun reporter Hannah Gaskill contributed to this story.