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Baltimore County State's Attorney Faces First Election Challenge In More Than A Decade

Robbie Leonard will challenge incumbent Scott Shellenberger for the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County State's Attorney. Courtesy: Robbie Leonard
Robbie Leonard is challenging Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger in the Democratic primary. Courtesy: Robbie Leonard

Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger has not had a Democratic primary challenger since he was first elected in 2006.

That is about to change.

Attorney Robbie Leonard said Monday he will challenge Shellenberger in next June’s primary.

Leonard is the secretary of the Maryland Democratic Party. He said Shellenberger is out of touch with Democratic primary voters. Specifically, Leonard criticized the state’s attorney for not prosecuting police officers involved in fatal shootings.

Leonard said, “Just in the past few years we’ve seen so many civilians who have been killed by the police, whether they were suffering a mental health crisis or just being Black.”

Leonard said he got tired of the status quo following the killing of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer.

“We need a change,” Leonard said. “We’ve got to prosecute the bad guys and sometimes it’s going to be the police.”

Shellenberger takes issue with that, saying his office has prosecuted 19 police officers for various offenses.

“We have, I believe, balanced the issues of prosecution and public safety very carefully,” Shellenberger said.

He announced in May that he is running for a fifth term.

Shellenberger said, “I feel there is still a great deal I can offer to the citizens of Baltimore County when it comes to crime fighting and keeping people safe.”

Shellenberger has cruised to reelection for more than a decade. His last Republican challenger in the general election was in 2010. According to his most recent financial disclosure, he has around $22,000 in his campaign coffers.

Leonard has run unsuccessfully for public office twice before, including a close state senate race he lost in 2018 to Republican Chris West.

Leonard will make his bid for Baltimore County State’s Attorney official on Saturday. He plans to hold a rally in Patriot’s Plaza in Towson at 2 p.m.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2