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Frosh won't seek third term as Maryland AG

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh attends Gov. Larry Hogan's State of the State address in 2020. Credit: Rachel Baye/WYPR
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh attends Gov. Larry Hogan's State of the State address in 2020. Credit: Rachel Baye/WYPR

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh plans to retire, rather than seek a third term next year, he announced Thursday.

Frosh said the decision was the hardest one he’s ever had to make.

“Honestly, I knew that either decision that I made, I would regret,” Frosh said in an interview. “There were a million reasons to stay in the job, but I think the dominating concern that I have is I didn't want to stay past my sell-by date.”

The announcement brought accolades from across Maryland’s political world, particularly fellow Democrats.

“As the people’s lawyer, Frosh established an unparalleled standard for public service and our state is all the better for it,” said Sen. Will Smith, a fellow Montgomery County Democrat who leads the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, just as Frosh once did. Smith also said Frosh has been an “invaluable mentor” to him.

In a tweet, House Speaker Adrienne Jones said Frosh “has been a brilliant litigator, a defender of our core values of justice and fairness and our country’s moral compass that held an unrestrained Trump Administration accountable.”

“After winning my first election in 2010, Brian was the first member of the Senate to sit down with me and explain the road ahead,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson. “He took the time to teach me how to use relationships and expertise to navigate the complex legislative environment.”

The 75-year-old Frosh began his career in Annapolis almost 35 years ago representing Bethesda in the House of Delegates and later, the state Senate. He became attorney general in 2015.

He said one of the highlights of his legislative career was helping to pass gun control measures he later defended as attorney general. Another was a law banning oil companies from drilling in the Chesapeake Bay.

Meanwhile, his proudest accomplishments as attorney general include several efforts that “fought back against institutionalized poverty,” such as bail reform and the repeal of a policy that revoked driver’s licenses over unpaid traffic fines.

Frosh also touted the numerous lawsuits he filed or backed against the Trump Administration.

“We fought back against discrimination — the Muslim ban,” he said. “We fought to keep the Affordable Care Act alive for everybody in the United States and fought to keep Donald Trump from violating our original anti-corruption laws, the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution.”

However, Frosh also frequently clashed with Gov. Larry Hogan, most recently as Frosh refused to defend the governor against a lawsuit challenging the early end of pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

With his remaining 15 months in office, Frosh said he hopes to reform the eviction process — preventing landlords from filing “serial evictions” to get their tenants to pay more quickly — and ban the sale of ghost guns, weapons that lack serial numbers and can’t be traced.

Even after he retires, he said he still won’t be done.

“I'm gonna keep punching somehow, even if I'm not holding office,” he said. “I'm gonna be working on the issues that I care about — climate change, justice, poverty, etc.”

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye