Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh endorsed his former legislative colleague, state Sen. James Brochin, for Baltimore County executive Thursday, giving the Democrat’s primary campaign a surprise — and needed — boost from the left.
Frosh delivered his nod to about 30 Brochin supporters — some in the candidate’s T-shirts, some holding an oversized placard — who gathered just after the lunch hour in front of the historic Baltimore County Courthouse in Towson.
“I know Jim well,” said Frosh, a liberal Democrat from Montgomery County who served with Brochin in the Maryland Senate. “I think his platform as county executive is an exemplary one, and I think he’ll be a great county executive and a great leader for Baltimore County.”
He praised Brochin particularly for being an advocate in the Senate for environmental causes, including Maryland’s fracking ban, the state’s Healthy Air Act, a law giving legal standing to citizens to sue polluters, and cracking down on poachers in the Chesapeake Bay.
Frosh, the longtime chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, where Brochin served under him for more than a decade, went on to describe what was a difficult vote for some legislators on the 2012 bill to approve same-sex marriage in the state.
Brochin, the attorney general recounted, told him one day in committee that he had campaigned telling voters in his district he supported civil unions, but that he would not go so far as to vote for the same-sex marriage bill.
But, after considering hours and hours of testimony, Brochin concluded, “‘The folks who are against this don’t have a case,’” Frosh recalled.
“I pointed out that I had the votes without him,” he said. “But he voted for that law.”
That vote, Frosh said, won Brochin greater respect in his eyes.
“I respected the fact that he sat there, he listened, he paid attention, he weighed the arguments on the merits, and when push came to shove, he was willing as a matter of principle to do what he thought was right,” he said. “He is smart, he’s honest, he’s principled — and he gets along with Democrats and Republicans.”
Brochin, 54, a four-term state senator, was clearly grateful for the support.
“Obviously I’m thrilled, very happy, and I appreciate it very much,” he said after the endorsement.
Given their reputations in Annapolis, the two men on the surface seem a bit of an odd couple.
“We didn’t agree on everything, but on major issues, we fought together and changed public policy,” Brochin said.
Representing a generally conservative District 42 for the last 16 years, he has straddled a fine line as a Democrat, often finding himself voting with Republican members of the Maryland Senate.
Brochin will need to shake some of that image and reputation if he wants to attract voters countywide from across the political spectrum, and the Frosh endorsement certainly could help to begin that change. Brochin also promotes himself as a political reformer — a reputation he shares with Frosh.
Oddly enough, Brochin has said that he counted among his closest friends in the Maryland Senate, Frosh, who served there for 20 years, including 12 as chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee before winning a bid for attorney general in 2014, and U.S. Rep. Jamin B. Raskin (D), a liberal former senator from Montgomery County.
Brochin let news of the Frosh endorsement slip Wednesday evening during a forum for Democratic county executive candidates sponsored by College Democrats of Towson University, at the school.
Mention of the endorsement seemed to go unnoticed by his competition, as Brochin answered an unrelated question standing between two of the three other Democratic candidates for executive in the primary election — Vicki L. Almond, 69, a second-term Baltimore County councilwoman, and John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr., 35, a former 8½-year member of the Maryland House of Delegates.
The fourth Democratic candidate, Kevin F. Marron, 63, did not show up at the forum, and a rostrum with his name on it stood empty beside the other candidates.