In an all-democrat race for Maryland attorney general, the four candidates who have formally declared have found themselves in a unique position: they aren’t all that different from one another.
Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Montgomery), Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s), Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) and Del. William Frick (D-Montgomery) each hail from suburban central Maryland districts, distinct from the western and eastern ends of the state both economically and socially, and each hold similar positions on many of the big issues.
Last month, the candidates attended a forum at the University of Maryland’s law school where they agreed on ever-popular issues like consumer protection and enforcing laws aimed at protecting the environment, issues that the Baltimore Jewish Council told the JT in September are at the top of their list of priorities as well.
On paper, it looks like an easy win for Frosh. In addition to his 27 years in local politics, Frosh has also been at the center of many of the most controversial issues the state has faced while serving as chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, a position he has held since 2003. He has a clear record of leadership and a long resume.
Laslo Boyd, managing partner at Mellenbrook Policy Advisors and political columnist, thinks the June 2014 Democratic primary could come down to a battle between record and name recognition.
“I think the name recognition is huge,” said Boyd. “Jon Cardin has the highest name recognition of anybody in the race. But the name recognition is Cardin, not Jon.”
On the other hand, said Boyd, “Jon Cardin’s substantive record pales compared to Brian Frosh — it’s not close.”
He added that Braveboy and Frick lack both the name recognition and the record to be real contenders, though, both being from the D.C. area, they could pose a threat to Frosh in that they can take some of his local votes.
In the June primary, which falls three months earlier than Maryland has held primaries for statewide elections over the past 48 years, Frosh’s record may not be enough to win him an easy victory, though he has been picking up some big endorsements.
The first-ever end of June primary, Boyd said, is expected to result in a low voter turnout in an already low-visibility race. Voters used to having until September to decide on a candidate will now have to make their decision months earlier, if they make a decision at all.
“Name recognition in low-visibility races probably is a very important factor, more than it is in a high-visibility race where, ultimately, everybody has high name recognition,” said Boyd.
Another effect of the June primary is the new proximity of the election to the end of the legislative session and the implication for fund raising. Three of the seven months the candidates have remaining to fund raise will be off limits as the state ethics guide forbids state legislators from fundraising while in session. This means it is crucial that the candidates work to build up a stash of funds before they go into session in January and their hands become effectively tied.
Doug Gansler has held the seat since 2006, most recently winning reelection in 2010; he ran unopposed in both the primary and the general election. With no contender stepping forward from the Republican side, it appears for now that the fall election will mimic that of 2010. JT
The deadline to file for candidacy is Feb. 25, 2014, and annual campaign finance reports are due to the state board of elections in January.
By The Numbers
The most current campaign finance records, filed in January 2013, reported each candidate as having on-hand:
Brian Frosh: $390,656
Jon Cardin: $170,225
Bill Frick: $60,353
Aisha Braveboy: $9,296
Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter