Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat, launched a committee Thursday that will help him explore a campaign for attorney general in 2014, apparently indicating that incumbent Douglas F. Gansler will run for governor that year.
“I’m convinced, and I think if you ask Doug Gansler, he’ll confirm that he’s not going to run for re-election,” Frosh said. “He’s a friend of mine. Let me just say I wouldn’t be doing this if he was running. I would not be lining up to run against Doug Gansler.
“I know he hasn’t made a formal announcement, but it’s no secret that he’s running for governor. He’s confirmed that to me.”
Gansler declined to comment for the record on his plans.
Frosh, chairman of the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee and name partner in the law firm Karp, Frosh, Wigodsky & Norwind P.A., said he had been on a tour of Maryland in recent weeks that would continue for the next several months as he inches toward making an official announcement of his candidacy.
“I’ve literally been in every region, and have supporters in every region,” he said. “The prospects look very encouraging.”
Asked what could stop him from running for attorney general, Frosh joked: “If I get hit by a bus.”
Frosh may have competition from within his own county. Del. C. William “Bill” Frick, a Democrat, is mulling entering the race, as is Montgomery County State’s Attorney John J. McCarthy, also a Democrat. McCarthy, in a statement, said Frosh would “be a quality candidate for attorney general.”
“I look forward to his ultimate decision about seeking the office,” McCarthy added. “As for my plans, I am keeping all my options open.”
Del. Jon S. Cardin, D-Baltimore County, is also exploring a run for the office.
Frosh’s committee includes U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, former governors Parris N. Glendening and Harry R. Hughes, former Maryland Attorney General Stephen H. Sachs, Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and a majority of the members of the state Senate, including Sen. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin, a Montgomery Democrat who had been interested in the attorney general job until late summer, when he decided he would stay in the Senate and be Frosh’s “most fervent supporter.”
Frosh’s challenge will be garnering support from the state’s conservative strongholds in the north, west and Eastern Shore.
Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr., an Upper Shore Republican who practices law in Elkton, sparred with Frosh this summer over how to overrule a controversial decision by the Maryland Court of Appeals that called pit bulls “inherently dangerous,” a fight that left Smigiel with a bad taste in his mouth.
A bill passed in the Senate and championed by Frosh made all dog owners strictly liable if their dog bit someone, with some exceptions. But the House of Delegates version drastically narrowed Frosh’s legislation, making owners liable only if a dog was running “at large.”
The House adjourned after passing the amended bill and legislation that could expand casino gambling in Maryland, giving the Senate two take-it-or-leave-it options. Frosh chose to leave the pit bull bill.
“People with respect to animal legislation are vehement in their objections and their memories,” Smigiel said. “They remember these things. He’ll find that the failure to accept the compromise that passed the House unanimously may create a problem for him.”
But Smigiel, while allowing that Frosh’s left-wing politics did not fit with his own interpretation of Maryland’s constitution, admitted that the Montgomery lawmaker’s experience on the Judicial Proceedings Committee was excellent training.
“You do not get any more intense training for sitting as a judge or sitting as an AG,” Smigiel said. “You have to hear all aspects of the law. … There is no better training, seriously, than sitting on one of these committees for a number of years.
“I will give [him] that. [He] will be probably one of the most well-trained individuals.”