State Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat who had been weighing a potential candidacy for attorney general, has decided to pass up a statewide campaign and seek re-election.
For now, Frosh's decision leaves the Democratic primary to succeed Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. as a contest between Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler and Montgomery County Councilman Thomas E. Perez. With less than two weeks before the July 3 filing deadline for the Sept. 12 primary, no candidates from the Baltimore area have announced an intention to run.
Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle is seeking the Republican nomination with the backing of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
Curran, a five-term Democrat, announced last month he would not seek re-election.
Frosh, a three-term senator who is chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, is sure to be a heavy favorite in District 16, which he carried in 2002 with more than 70 percent of the vote. Before his election to the Senate in 1994, he served two terms in the House of Delegates.
The 59-year-old senator said he believes he could have been elected attorney general but that he loves his job in the Senate.
"I feel I'm having an impact on issues that make a difference for the people of Montgomery County and the state," he said.
Frosh also acknowledged that political arithmetic also played a role in the decision.
"There's not exactly a shortage of people from Montgomery County offering themselves for statewide service," he said.
Besides Gansler and Perez in the attorney general's race, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor and Del. Peter Franchot is attempting to unseat Comptroller William Donald Schaefer in the Democratic primary. Two Montgomery residents, Steven N. Abrams and Mark M. Spradley, are among the three Republicans who have filed to run for comptroller.
Frosh is known as one of the General Assembly's most passionate environmentalists and a vocal critic of the Ehrlich administration.
After an abortive effort by the administration in 2004 to sell an environmentally sensitive parcel to a developer, he sponsored a constitutional amendment barring such sales without General Assembly approval. That amendment, which passed the legislature in 2005, will go before the voters this November.
Frosh has also been one of the leading critics of the Ehrlich administration's firings of longtime state employees at the Public Service Commission and other agencies.
The senator's harsh words about Ehrlich's actions stung Republicans and brought a demand from the governor's counsel, Jervis S. Finney, that Frosh resign from an Assembly panel investigating the administration's personnel practices. Frosh refused.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller welcomed Frosh's decision, praising him as a "very principled individual" and one of the Senate's best orators.
"I'm very grateful that he's coming back, though I think that if he'd run for attorney general he could have done quite well," said Miller. But the Calvert County Democrat said Frosh would have had a liability as a candidate.
"One of the things Brian does not do well is raise money," Miller said. "Brian eschews raising money. He just can't do it."