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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Brown taps transition leaders; Peroutka refuses to concede

Rep. Anthony Brown (D), Maryland’s Attorney General-elect, spoke alongside union leaders at a rally in Parkville on July 6. Photo by Bruce DePuyt.

Attorney General-elect Anthony Brown chose two stalwarts from the legal profession — a groundbreaking former judge and a former law school dean — to lead his transition on Thursday. 

The moves came as his former rival, Republican Michael Peroutka, announced that he will not concede to Brown, because of “odd and suspicious events” at Maryland polling places. 

Brown (D), a three-term member of Congress who scored a resounding victory in the race to succeed outgoing Attorney General Brian Frosh (D), tapped Donna Hill Staton and Donald Tobin to lead his transition. 

Staton is a former Circuit Court judge from Howard County and a former member of the Maryland State Board of Education who now serves as a consultant and on various corporate boards. 

Tobin recently stepped down as dean of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. He specializes in tax law and election law. A former staffer for Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D), he is a tax expert, professor and author. 

In a statement, Brown said the pair “bring a wealth of experience and are highly respected members of Maryland’s legal community. They’ll be invaluable advisors as the co-chairs of my transition.”

Brown trounced Peroutka, 60.0% to 39.8%, a margin similar to Democratic Gov.-elect Wes Moore’s win over Republican state Del. Dan Cox. 

In a statement, Peroutka, who has not accepted the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, said he would not concede — despite the lopsided outcome — because of “strange occurrences” that took place on Election Day. 

“During [Tuesday’s] voting, many odd and suspicious incidents were reported by poll watchers, and more reports are being gathered today,” Peroutka wrote. “Perhaps, like many others, you found it presumptuous that Wes Moore and Anthony Brown claimed victory before any results were posted on the official website. The local media obligingly concurred even though the first tallies were not yet reported.”

A former member of the Anne Arundel County Council who campaigned on a pledge to ignore laws that conflict with “God-given, constitutionally-protected rights,” Peroutka pledged “investigate these strange occurrences and I do not plan to concede the race.” 

In a statement, the state Board of Elections (SBE) said it was unaware of any suspicious activity on Election Day. 

The state board “takes all such reports seriously and works with the local boards of elections to determine whether referral of reported activities to the Office of the State Prosecutor is warranted,” the statement read. “At this time, SBE is not aware of any such incidents. Marylanders can be confident in the integrity of the state’s election processes and that any potentially inappropriate activity will be thoroughly investigated.”

In a text exchange, Peroutka declined to describe the events his poll watchers found to be “odd and suspicious.” His effort does not appear to have the support of leading Republicans in Maryland.  

Cox, who has embraced former President Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election and who urged supporters to keep a close eye on drop boxes, sought to distance himself from Peroutka’s probe. “I don’t know anything about that and am not involved,” he told Maryland Matters.

Former Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R), who helped raise funds for GOP candidates this year at the request of the state party, declined to comment.

Brown also declined to comment.

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) wasn’t asked about Peroutka during a joint appearance with Moore, but he expressed hope the GOP’s under-performance on Tuesday would prompt “soul-searching” among Republicans in Maryland and nationally. 

“I don’t think the Republican Party in Maryland has much of a future by doubling down on failure and by moving in a wacky direction that has a message that does not appeal to swing voters and traditional Republicans and independents and discerning Democrats,” he said. 

Republican strategist Jim Dornan dismissed his party’s AG nominee as “a very minor player” who typified the group of candidates who were rejected by the electorate this week. “Peroutka is a conspiracy theorist who can’t handle the reality that Maryland’s voters rejected his extreme views,” Dornan said. 

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.