He's No. 2


The incoming lieutenant governor discusses his background, the O'Malley administration's plans and his relationship with the governor-to-be.

Q&A -- Anthony G. Brown

November 26, 2006|By Jennifer Skalka | Jennifer Skalka,Sun Reporter

In a room lined with empty bookcases, Prince George's County Del. Anthony G. Brown sits at the head of a long wooden table, surrounded by most of the 44 people who have just signed on to Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley's transition team.

He urges members to introduce themselves, to share a bit about their backgrounds. But when the first few are long-winded, Brown, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, politely tells them to shorten it up. He advises a simple change of direction: Name and organization, he says, would do just fine. It's the first of many pieces of advice he expects to give over the course of the transition, and for that matter, the next four years.

Everyone laughs - and then listens to their orders.

"Harry Hughes, former state employee," the onetime governor says to applause.

As the lieutenant governor-elect, Brown is spearheading the effort to craft a new administration in Annapolis - a sign, he says, that O'Malley has full faith in his No. 2 man.

Raised in Huntington, N.Y., the son of a doctor, Brown, 45, is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. In between those, he served in the Army to fulfill his undergraduate ROTC scholarship requirements.

He moved to the Washington area to practice law and was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1999. As a member of the Army Reserve, Brown served in Iraq in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He was recently promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Though he clearly brought geographic and racial balance to the Democratic gubernatorial ticket headlined by the Baltimore mayor, Brown is also a force in his own right, a strong personality with a big, booming voice who is expected to use the lieutenant governor's post to further his own political career.

Ever the competitor, Brown notes that though he is a twin, it is his brother, Andrew, who has the distinction of the being the youngest in the family of five children.

"I'm a few minutes older than him," Brown said, during an interview in the O'Malley/Brown transition office on the 20th floor of the William Donald Schaefer Tower in Baltimore. Growing up on Long Island, what did you think you would do for a living?

I did believe I would be in public service, one way or the other. Because when I was young some of my teachers thought that I would be a lawyer when I grew up - but they said attorney, and I didn't really know what an attorney was.

So I went to the encyclopedia to get more information. And right next to "attorney" was "attorney general" - so I read about the attorney general of the United States, not just a lawyer but a public servant who basically is the seeker of justice, of truth and justice. And I thought that's something that I'd like to do.

I was in sixth grade, and you're real impressionable, and that got me on the course to thinking that one day I'd grow up to be a government official who seeks truth and justice on behalf of society. All because my sixth-grade teacher said I would be an attorney when I grew up. Why did she say that?

Because I talked a lot in class. And I was one of those kids who always had an opinion and wasn't afraid to offer it. Who were your role models as a child?

I admired Muhammad Ali, because of his skills and talents. And his confidence also. And also his belief that people have to serve one another. He did believe that, he does believe that. [He's] a man who stood up for his convictions in the face of losing a very promising career that he was in the middle of - his boxing career. He was willing to go to jail for something that he believed in. I admired him growing up. Your mother is Swiss, your father was born in Cuba but raised in Jamaica. How did race play a role in your upbringing?

I had experiences where race could have been an impediment but my parents did everything they could to help their children succeed and thrive, notwithstanding those challenges. ...

I was placed in a math class in junior high school - I was probably the highest-achieving math student in my sixth-grade class, yet going into seventh grade I was placed in a low-level math course. In the highest-level course, there were no blacks that were placed in that course.

And I went to my mother and I said, "Mom, I'm thoroughly bored with the level of math that they're teaching." It was her thinking and mine as well that it was probably a race-based decision made by somebody somewhere that there are not going to be so many blacks in that program. Well, my mother went marching down to school and demanded that her son be placed in that course. Much was made during the 2006 election of whether state Democrats fielded a diverse ticket. As the only African-American candidate running statewide, do you think the party's nominees were adequately representative?

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