Veteran state legislator Brian Frosh will be sworn in this afternoon as the state’s new attorney general – the 46th person to serve in the position since Maryland became a state, and the second consecutive Montgomery County resident elected to the job.
Frosh, a Chevy Chase resident, is scheduled to take the oath of office from outgoing Gov. Martin O’Malley at 2 p.m. in the House of Delegates chamber, where Frosh represented the Bethesda-based 16th District from 1986 to 1994. Frosh then represented the area for two decades in the state Senate prior to his statewide election in November.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett – to whom Frosh has been close politically – is among those scheduled to speak at the ceremony, along with state Treasurer Nancy Kopp of Bethesda. Before being appointed treasurer in 2002, Kopp spent more than a quarter of a century in the House of Delegates, serving with Frosh representing District 16.
As of late morning, the swearing-in ceremony was going ahead as scheduled, notwithstanding today’s inclement weather, according to a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
Frosh, 68, succeeds Douglas Gansler, also a Bethesda resident. Gansler, who was Montgomery County state’s attorney prior to serving two terms as attorney general, gave up that job to pursue an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in last June’s primary. Gansler is joining the Washington-based law firm of BuckleySandler as a partner, where he will focus on cybersecurity and privacy issues.
During nearly 30 years in the General Assembly, Frosh carved out a reputation as a champion of environmental protection and consumer protection issues, both of which have been a major focus of the attorney general’s office in recent years. As the chair of the influential Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, he was the architect of the state’s sweeping gun control law in 2013.
Such a record made Frosh the overwhelming favorite of the state’s Democratic Party establishment when he announced his intention to pursue the attorney general’s job more than two years ago. But he trailed in the polls for much of the primary campaign, hindered by the name recognition of his chief opponent: Del. Jon Cardin of Baltimore County, a nephew of Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.
The traditionally low-key Frosh went on the offensive against Cardin in the closing weeks of the campaign, and ended up winning the Democratic nomination last June by a landslide margin. He then easily defeated the Republican nominee, Baltimore County attorney Jeffrey Pritzker, in the November election.
There already has been speculation about how Frosh – who, as the state’s top lawyer, is charged with defending actions taken by the governor – will get along with Republican Larry Hogan, who will be sworn in as governor in two weeks after an upset victory in November.
Under the Maryland constitution, the schedule for swearing in the attorney general is vague – requiring only that it be done after the first of the year. Consequently, choice rather than legal mandate appears to have led to the scheduling of today’s ceremony on what turned out to be the winter’s first snowy day.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story had identified Frosh as the 44th attorney general since Maryland became a state. The attorney general's office, which had initially characterized Frosh as the 44th person to hold the position, has subsequently indicated Frosh is technically the 46th occupant. The revised count includes two attorneys who were appointed to hold the job for just one day each in early 1979 between the tenures of Democrat Francis Burch (1967-1978) and Democrat Stephen Sachs (1979-1987).