By Adam Pagnucco.
Delegate Bill Frick (D-16) has dropped out of the Congressional District 6 race and is running for County Executive. This is the biggest story so far in the Executive race. Council Members Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal have been preparing to run for Executive for years but Frick has never before expressed interest in county office. Additionally, Frick is the first person who is not a term-limited Council Member to declare for Executive and he may not be the last.
So who is Bill Frick? He’s a MoCo native who went to Northwestern and Harvard and is an attorney with Akin Gump downtown. He was little known to the MoCo political community until he stunned the establishment by defeating a formidable field for a Delegate appointment in 2007. He worked his way up in the House to become Parliamentarian and later House Majority Leader. After first serving on Ways and Means, he joined the powerful House Economic Matters Committee, which decides all issues connected to alcohol, public utilities, insurance, banking, economic development and workers compensation. He is the Chair of the Property & Casualty Insurance Subcommittee. Frick is generally liked by his colleagues, often pranking them by stealing their phones and typing worshipful Facebook posts (“Bill Frick is my hero!”), but he is also respected as a substantive lawmaker. His multiple, aborted runs for higher office (Attorney General in the prior term and CD6 until just recently) have raised questions among some of his colleagues about his political savvy but have not dented his popularity in Annapolis.
Frick has been a busy legislator over the years with a focus on consumer issues. He has attracted news by introducing legislation to crack down on credit card companies and Internet scamming. His bill to tighten renewable energy standards was vetoed by the Governor but passed after an override by the General Assembly. Frick achieved countywide renown by introducing legislation in 2015 to allow MoCo voters to decide whether to end the county’s liquor monopoly. It was a tremendous act of political courage that few MoCo politicians can match. It provoked the county government employees union, which represents liquor monopoly workers, to target his wife and call for an investigation, none of which went anywhere. The union may never endorse Frick in a future race, but for those who want to End the Monopoly, Frick is an eternal hero.
One more thing: He is one of the most witty, charming and likable humans on Planet Earth. No one other than George Clooney, Bill Clinton or Bono is going to win a personality contest with Bill Frick.
Frick holds court in 2010. Is this how MoCo voters will react to him?
For all of his undeniable assets as a candidate, Frick’s entry into the race provokes more questions than answers. We will examine those questions in Part Two.