Analysis: Bill Frick Announces Campaign for County Executive

Frick Announcement by David Lublin on Scribd

Del. Bill Frick (D-16) has announced his bid for county executive. He should attract a lot of attention and interest because he’s the first person who is not a member of the County Council to jump into the race in a year when many voters are looking for someone new yet seems up to the job.

As Adam Pagnucco has analyzed, based on the support for term limits among Democrats, it’s a real plus that Frick is not associated with the current gang running the County. While other candidates will definitely hold him accountable for his actions in Annapolis, it is not at all clear to me that voters will rush to blame the State for decisions made in Rockville.

Being new to most voters also gives Frick a chance to introduce himself along with his ideas simultaneously. He’ll probably want to take a few more daring, clearcut positions that existing candidates in order to claim some issues and set himself apart from the pack.

Frick should also be an appealing campaigner. When he went for the delegate vacancy in District 16, he was not the favorite for the appointment. He won it when he blew away the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee with his presentation.

Ironically, though Frick is thus far the only non-Jewish candidate in the race, he has real potential to appeal to Jewish voters. Growing up where he did in Montgomery County, my bet is that he attended more Bar Mitzvahs than I did. Remember that many Jewish areas in MoCo voted for Ike Leggett over Steve Silverman.

Frick will face some challenges as well as opportunities. After an abortive race for attorney general four years ago and dabbling heavily with running for Congress, he will need to sell observers on his real commitment to County government.

He will also need to work fast to define himself in an appealing way that stands out before others do it for him–something that will require money whether inside or outside the new public financing system. Even attacks, however, can create opportunities. MCGEO’s Gino Renne, for example, has criticized Frick in the past but could serve as a useful foil.

Among the existing candidates, Roger Berliner is the big loser and Marc Elrich is the big winner from Bill Frick’s entry. Berliner was positioned to be the more practical, pro-business candidate. Frick could attract much of that support if business decides to unify around a fresh face who is more willing to forthrightly support aspects of their agenda.

As the leading progressive candidate in the race, Elrich will benefit if less strongly left-wing candidates split up the vote. He could benefit further if other candidates in the same political space enter the race. Leventhal may also try to claim the progressive mantle but will likely lack the validators needed to make it credible.

Bill Frick’s entry certainly shakes up the race. My guess is that voters welcome his candidacy as a breath of fresh air. Whether his campaign catches fire remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Bethesda Beat’s Andrew Metcalf reports that Frick does not plan to participate in the public financing system: “‘I’d rather raise my own funds than spend the taxpayers’ dollars on my campaign,’ Frick said about his decision.”