Thirty-two years ago, then-20-year-old Bill Frank was one of 1,500 young people at the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit with the Reagan Youth Delegation, whose purpose was to stir up enthusiasm for the 69-year-old nominee — and show America that young people supported "The Gipper."
Next week, state Del. Bill Frank, who represents the 42nd District, including Towson, will return to the convention, this time to support the Republican presidential ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
"I'm a big fan of Governor Romney," Frank said last week from Ocean City, where state political leaders were gathered for the Maryland Association of Counties' summer convention. "I think he would make an outstanding president. We've got to make a change in the White House. The stakes are high this year — very, very high."
The convention, which runs Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, will be "very serious business," said Frank, but involves "a lot of fun, a lot of work and a lot of parties."
"We're nominating our party's nominee for president of the United States," he said. "By the same token, there's a lot of opportunity for fun."
Frank is one of three delegates representing Maryland's 2nd Congressional district. He'll be there with Steve Kolbe, chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee; and Al Redmer Jr., a former state delegate from Middle River and former Maryland Insurance Commissioner. Kolbe, of Towson, could not be reached for comment for this story.
Each of Maryland's eight congressional districts elects three delegates and three alternates, and the state Republican party selects 10 additional delegates at the state convention. The state's three Republican National Committee members also serve as delegates. All 37 of Maryland's delegates to the Republican National Convention are pledged to support Romney and Ryan.
The Tampa convention will be Frank's third time at his party's quadrennial showcase event. His first, that Detroit event, was "the ultimate fun political experience in my lifetime," Frank said.
"It was so much excitement for a 20-year-old college student," Frank, a graduate of Mount St. Mary's, said. "It was a pretty good place to be."
Additionally, Frank served as an alternate delegate at the 2004 convention in New York City during the reelection campaign of PresidentGeorge W. Bush. As an alternate, Frank didn't have many responsibilities, but he relished the opportunity — and understood why he couldn't be a full delegate.
At the time, then-Gov. Bob Ehrlich wanted non-elected officials to serve as delegates to the convention to broaden the party's base. Still, Frank was happy to go as an alternate and take in the sights of the city.
This year's trip will be conveniently located for both the party and Frank. Florida, he said, will be a key state in the election, and the convention is also a half-hour drive toSt. Petersburg, where his daughter, Kathleen, is a second-year law student at Stetson University.
Combine the quality family time with what he believes will be an "absolutely electric" atmosphere at the convention, and Frank is ready for a memorable trip.
"When you combine Romney's experience with Ryan's experience, it's a very strong ticket, and I think the enthusiasm level will be through the roof," Frank said. "I'm very proud of our ticket, and I expect us to win. I really do."