Del. Jon S. Cardin and Sen. Brian E. Frosh didn’t get past the first question before the gloves came off during a Monday night debate at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
In what is becoming an increasingly heated race, Frosh, D-Montgomery, fired the first shot criticizing Cardin for his attendance record in Annapolis.
“I show up and work hard every day and that is in sharp contrast to Jon Cardin,” Frosh said in response to an early question about qualifications for the job.
Frosh then added that Cardin “has one of the worst voting records in the General Assembly” and said that Cardin missed 20 percent of his committee votes from the 2013 session and a committee vote during a 2012 special session on a bill creating a sixth casino in the state. That bill moved through the House Ways and Means Committee, of which Cardin is a member.
In an interview with a reporter that year, Cardin said he missed the vote because he had to be home with his wife and newborn child.
Frosh, speaking directly to Cardin, criticized the three-term delegate for “missed votes on bills in your subcommittee. That’s not leadership.”
Cardin, D-Baltimore County, responded by calling Frosh’s comments “intellectually dishonest.”
He called Frosh’s attacks personal.
“I think you’re better than that,” Cardin said to Frosh.
Cardin told the audience he had a 90 percent voting record and did not fail to vote on a bill where his vote would have mattered in the outcome — a repeat of statements he has made earlier on the issue.
He then criticized Frosh, the chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, for his own voting record including abstaining from votes on bill’s creating tougher background check requirements on day care workers and Jessica’s Law, a bill instituting mandatory minimums for those who sexually abuse children.
Cardin said Frosh made Mark Klaas, a California man whose daughter, Polly, was raped and murdered in 1993, wait five hours to testify on the bill and that Frosh left before hearing the father’s testimony.
Cardin also criticized Frosh for his attempt to create a computer-based assessment tool that would be used to replace the current bail system this year in the wake of a landmark Court of Appeals ruling that requires attorneys for defendants at the time of an initial bail hearing.
“No other state in the nation is using a computer system to fully determine somebody’s future and freedom,” Cardin said. “It is Orwellian.”
Frosh defended his opposition to Jessica’s law, saying that he has long opposed mandatory minimum sentences — a position he said is growing in acceptance around the country, and he called Cardin’s explanation of the bill “a comic book explanation of a complicated issue.”
A Baltimore Sun poll released this week showed Cardin is the frontrunner, with Frosh trailing behind but within striking distance. Del. Aisha N. Braveboy, D-Prince George’s, trailed in the polls as well as in overall funding and name recognition. The poll found that 42 percent still are undecided just days before the start of early voting on June 12 and the June 24 primary.
Frosh leads in money and endorsements of elected officials across the state. He criticized Cardin for receiving an endorsement last week from local rapper Ski Money, who is facing 22 counts of human trafficking and prostitution charges.
Braveboy, in what may have been a jab at Cardin, wore a ribbon she said memorialized victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse, but she never directly tied it to the rapper’s endorsement.
Cardin, for his part, announced last week that he had rejected the endorsement and returned a $100 donation made to him by the rapper whose given name is Lawrence Sean Christian III.
The debate Monday was the last scheduled public event featuring the three Democratic candidates. The three candidates will appear Wednesday morning in a radio debate hosted by former Sen. Larry Young on WOLB 1010 AM.