When Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) approached Anthony G. Brown about being his running mate in 2006, the recently returned Iraq war veteran was admittedly hesitant.
“I didn’t know what the lieutenant governor really did,” Brown (D) said. “And I believed, at that time, that I was in a position to make a meaningful contribution in the legislature.”
But a look through O’Malley’s record and some discussions about redefining the role of lieutenant governor convinced Brown that even from the State House, he could continue living a life of service.
Now he seeks to continue serving Maryland as the state’s next governor.
Born in New York, the son of a Jamaican doctor and a Swiss nurse, Brown, 52, was one of five children, including his twin brother Andrew. There he grew up watching his immigrant-turned-naturalized-U.S.-citizen parents serve their community.
From a young age, Brown said, he felt within him a growing desire to commit his life to service, much as his father Roy did by serving poor neighborhoods in New York.
So after graduating Harvard College in 1984, Brown commissioned into the U.S. Army as a 2nd lieutenant, flying helicopters with the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
He spent five years on active duty before he returned to Harvard to attend law school, and joined the Army Reserves, through which he eventually was called to serve in Iraq in 2004 as part of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command.
But it was in August 1992, fresh out of law school, when Brown moved to Maryland, the state he now seeks to represent as governor.
The same desire to serve that led Brown to active and reserve military service, to eight years as a delegate from District 25 in Prince George’s County, and to eight years as lieutenant governor has him in the heated 2014 race for Democratic nomination, he said.
“We’ve achieved a lot, but I think our work is far from complete,” he said. “We need to continue building on these successes and that is why I’m running for governor.”
If he wins, Brown will be Maryland’s first black governor, and he will be the first lieutenant governor elected to become governor.
As lieutenant governor, Brown boasts a record that he said includes expanding access to affordable health care and strengthening the state’s economy as well as progress on education and the environment.
Yet as Brown campaigns for governor, he said, he listens to Marylanders’ critiques of the current administration — what’s working, what’s not, what the state can build upon and what it should discard.
“Maryland’s making a lot of progress and there’s some things that we’re doing well, but no one ought to be complacent,” he said.
While many voters question where Brown differs from O’Malley, Brown said the question is not what is different, but what will be next.
Maryland leads the nation in education, but a significant achievement gap still exists for many Maryland students, he said. Brown’s campaign has proposed a program that would provide all children with access to pre-kindergarten education, and will soon propose a plan on providing career and technology education for Maryland students who do not want to pursue a college degree.
Brown said Maryland has one of the highest-skilled work forces in the country and has been ranked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the top state in innovation and entrepreneurship. But the chamber also ranks Maryland 46th for overall business climate, he said.
Marylanders want to see the business climate improved, and Brown said his campaign has a framework to make it stronger.
He also has proposed policies to cut taxes for veterans and to strengthen domestic violence laws.
“This is the time, this is the opportunity to be very critical of what we’re doing well and what we can do better,” he said.
Brown is running in a Democratic primary for governor against Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park.
The primary is June 24, 2014. The general election is Nov. 4, 2014.
As Brown vies for the party’s nomination, he is joined by his running mate, Howard County Executive Kenneth S. Ulman.
“Ken is an exceedingly effective county executive,” Brown said. “He’s got a reputation for achieving results.”
Brown and Ulman also have behind them a growing list of endorsements that includes many of the state’s unions and elected officials.
To Brown, those endorsements reflect the strong relationships he has built with his peers in public service and their shared values.
Together Brown and Ulman form a ticket that, if elected, would bring an inclusive and transparent administration to Annapolis that values practical approaches to the state’s challenges, Brown said.
Brown lives in Mitchellville with his wife, Karmen Walker Brown, and has three children — daughter Rebecca, 18, son Jonathan, 13, and stepson Anthony Walker, 13.