By ERIN BRYANT, Capital News Service
ANNAPOLIS - As Douglas F. Gansler readies himself to become Maryland's new Attorney General - the first new face in that office in 20 years - the ambitious 44-year-old prosecutor pledges to make the environment and public safety his top priorities.
"It's not an office in dire need of an overhaul," said Gansler, who has served as Montgomery County's chief prosecutor for the past eight years.
"I look forward to injecting my passion and energy into the office," said Gansler, who defeated his Republican challenger, Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle with 61 percent of the vote.
Gansler said that after his January inauguration, his first move as Attorney General will be to begin what he called an audit of the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
The next attorney general said he plans to assemble walking teams to hike the more than 150 waterways that flow into the Chesapeake Bay, with an eye toward spotting potential polluters.
"We're going to go mile by mile and identify polluters and prosecute them," Gansler says. "We're going to begin working out the logistics on that."
Gansler is unabashed about his own driving political ambition. As quoted in an October Washington Post article, Gansler says he wants to be the "Eliot Spitzer of Maryland."
The Post article reported that Gansler in fact keeps a framed photograph of Spitzer - whom many regard as the poster boy of political ambition - in his office.
Gansler replaces J. Joseph Curran, Jr., who was elected in 1986 and served as Attorney General longer than anyone else in Maryland history. Curran, 75, decided not to seek a sixth term at the same time his son in law, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, was running for governor.
While Gansler has had much experience with criminal matters as a state's attorney in Montgomery County and before that as an Assistant U.S. attorney, he said that civil cases would get equal attention.
"The bread and butter of the office is consumer protection" said Gansler, who promised to "hold the line" on insurance and utility companies that took advantage of Maryland consumers.
Gansler said he looked forward to taking the office in January and sees himself working well with fellow Maryland Democrats, Gov.-elect O'Malley and Comptroller-elect Peter V.R. Franchot.
A Montgomery County native, Gansler attended Sidwell Friends School and currently lives in Chevy Chase with his wife, Laura Leedy Gansler, and their two sons, Sam, 12, and Will, 9.
Doug and Laura met on their fist day of law school at the University of Virginia.
Laura Leedy Gansler is now a securities lawyer who has written several books - including the best-selling title which she co-authored, Class Action, the story of the first successful sexual harassment law suit in the U.S.
The book became the basis for the 2005 movie North Country starring Charlize Theron, which was nominated for two Academy Awards.
Before attending the University of Virginia law school, Doug Gansler graduated cum laude from Yale University where he played on the lacrosse team.
Gansler has remained active in sports over the years by coaching for his two sons' lacrosse, baseball and basketball teams.