2017 | Politics

Republican Robin Ficker Plans To Use Public Financing to Run for County Executive

The Boyds attorney has unsuccessfully run for office six times in the past decade, but last year he led successful drive for term limits

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Robin Ficker during a term limits press conference in 2016

Andrew Metcalf

Perennial Republican candidate Robin Ficker is planning to run for Montgomery County executive and use the county’s public financing system to fund his campaign.

Ficker filed documents about his intent to use the system Feb. 8 with the state’s Board of Elections, according to online records.

“I’m running for county executive because Montgomery County needs someone who can deliver,” Ficker said Thursday. “I’ve shown I can deliver.”

Since 2006 Ficker has lost six local races, including a 2006 run for county executive in which he received 6 percent of the vote. Ficker’s one victory since he first started running for office in the 1970s was in 1978 when he won a District 15 House of Delegates seat.

Ficker has been on a political high of late as a result of his petition drive last year that led to a successful referendum that put term limits in place in the county.

“I delivered on term limits with 70 percent of the vote, despite opposition of elected officials and the media for that matter,” Ficker said. He added that the incumbent County Council members are the ones who have been unsuccessful. Three County Council members–Democrats Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, and George Leventhal are planning runs for county executive.

“Their agenda was rejected,” Ficker said. “Their ‘Manhattanization’ of parts of Montgomery County without providing adequate schools and roads was rejected.”

Ficker could receive up to $750,000 in county funds for his campaign using the public financing system approved by the council in 2014. The system allows political candidates to accept donations of $150 or less, which are then matched using multiples of county funds. For example, a $100 donation is matched by a multiple of five to give a candidate a total of $600.

A county executive candidate must raise a total of $40,000 from 500 donors to qualify for public financing and cannot accept donations from unions, PACs, or party committees.

Ficker has set up a website to explain the donation process complete with images of U.S. currency and donate buttons. The website also notes his role in the term limits referendum and his effort to impose the 2008 property tax charter amendment that prevents the council from raising taxes significantly without a unanimous vote of the nine-member council.

Ficker said he chose to use the public financing system because it gives clout to the average voter.

“[The system] negates the special interest groups that have controlled Montgomery County elections in the past,” Ficker said.

Elrich and Leventhal also plan to use the public financing system.

Ficker said his platform for county executive would center on keeping property taxes down to the rate of inflation and ensuring that children exercise.

“I’m a sports person,” Ficker said. “One of the planks of my platform is to have every Montgomery County school child run or walk a mile each and every school day. We’re going to get Montgomery County moving again.”

Ficker is the first Republican candidate to announce plans to run for county executive. Democratic candidates planning or considering a run include the County Council members Elrich, Berliner and Leventhal; former County Council member Mike Knapp, Del. Ben Kramer from Wheaton and businessman David Trone. County Council member Craig Rice has also said he is evaluating whether to run in 2018.

Elrich, Berliner and Leventhal as well as current County Executive Ike Leggett must step down in 2018 due to term limits.