Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Democratic Rising Star: Anthony Brown

If you've never before heard of Anthony Brown, this is your chance to get ahead of the curve. Because in the coming weeks and months and years, you'll be hearing a lot about this Democratic rising star.

The Jamaican-American army aviator doesn't have to say that he's a veteran; it's writ large all over him. The short cropped hair, the steady hands, and the sense of alertness give it away. But what you might not know, is that he's a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and for his service, Anthony Brown was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Iraq Campaign Medal.

But it isn't just that he has served in the military with distinction that makes Mr. Brown one of the rising stars in the Democratic Party. It's his stellar accomplishments stateside that made him the obvious pick for Lt. Governor on the O'Malley ticket in Maryland. Mr. Brown is a graduate of Harvard Law School--an often easy path to fortune and a life apart from public service. But Mr. Brown spent his talent on doing work for indigent clients, and earned the 1999 Pro Bono Award for his service.

The son of a doctor, Anthony Brown has taken a special interest in the plight of foster children in Maryland. Maryland's foster system is in a state of crisis, and Brown has been at the forefront of reform. As a member of the Board of Directors for Adoptions Together, Inc, he has devoted his energies to change Maryland’s foster care and adoption laws so that they better protect children in need.

He then went on to be elected to the Maryland General Assembly, where he quickly rose to be the Majority Whip--becoming one of the most powerful African-Americans in Maryland politics today. While Majority Whip of the House of Delegates, he has championed successful efforts to raise Maryland’s minimum wage and expand health care access.

And he hasn't been afraid to fight the Governor's cuts to health care and social services. “It is a shame that in Maryland, the third wealthiest state in the union, we have 780,000 Marylanders without health insurance,” Brown said, adding that 160,000 of those residents were added during Ehrlich’s four years in office. “I would not be surprised to see if they’re low income and people of color."

But for all Anthony Brown's progressive politics, there's a strong sense of steadiness about him and old-fashioned values. Brown, like his Harvard classmate, Senator Barak Obama, is a first generation American who still has stars in his eyes when he talks about the opportunities this country offers its citizens. It's exactly this wonder, this sense of faith in our country's promise, that we need today. And Anthony Brown has that and then some.

O'Malley was widely lauded for choosing Brown as a running mate. Congressman Elijah Cummings observed, "Anthony Brown is a brilliant, compassionate leader who has demonstrated the capability to bring people together and get the people's work done . . . I congratulate the Mayor on this outstanding choice."

Anthony Brown is, to be frank, the virtual poster boy of everything the Democratic Party needs in a candidate--and what America needs in a politician.

Mr. Brown brings the perspective of someone who knows what it's like to face real danger and make real sacrifices. He also brings the perspective and compassion of someone who knows what it's like to grow up a minority in America and beat the odds.

Combine Mr. Brown's inspiring story with his good looks and enormous talent, and one hopes that Mayor O'Malley doesn't mind being outshone now and again.

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