Chief of D.C. Trade Association Gearing Up to Challenge Frosh for AG

By Josh Kurtz

A leader of a prominent Washington, D.C., trade association is gearing up to run against state Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) in the fall.

Craig Wolf, the president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, confirmed in a brief phone conversation Monday that he would join the race soon. He did not respond to a follow-up email seeking more information about his candidacy.

Wolf, a Republican, briefly had a visible campaign Facebook page online Monday morning, but it later disappeared from public view.

CraigWolf

Craig Wolf

Republicans said they expect him to announce his candidacy sometime in February.

“I’m very enthusiastic about his interest and commitment to the race,” said Dirk Haire, chairman of the Maryland GOP.

Wolf announced last week that he would step down from the liquor wholesalers group on June 30 and would announce his future plans soon. He has run the organization since July 2006 and spent the previous six years as the group’s general counsel.

“Under Craig’s leadership, WSWA has built a reputation second-to-none when it comes to effective advocacy on both sides of the aisle on behalf of distributors,” WSWA Chairman Carmine Martignetti, president of Massachusetts-based Martignetti Companies, said in a statement announcing Wolf’s pending resignation. “WSWA truly punches above its weight. Our success is a testament to member engagement, and to Craig’s management and long-term strategic leadership. Craig leaves the organization at the peak of its influence and effectiveness and on solid membership, financial and operational footing.”

Before joining the liquor wholesalers’ group, Wolf had a varied legal career. According to his LinkedIn page, he spent five years as a trial attorney at the U.S. Justice Department, and was dispatched for some of that time to the staff of U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who was then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Wolf also spent five years as an assistant state’s attorney in Allegany County. He is a 1987 graduate of the University of Baltimore Law School and earned a BA in History from Dickinson College three years earlier.

Wolf is listed as a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association, which bills itself as the national bar association for GOP attorneys. He is also a former member of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee.

Frosh, who has held public office for 32 years, will be heavily favored to win a second term as attorney general. But Wolf appears to be a credible opponent who could conceivably spend heavily to bloody the incumbent.

Frosh and Gov. Larry Hogan (R) are no fans of one another, and Democratic attorneys general have earned the ire of national Republicans for their attempts to slow President Trump’s agenda on a variety of fronts. Frosh is also sitting on a $1 million war chest, and to the extent that he has a vigorous challenge, he will be forced to spend time and money to win re-election instead of helping other Democrats up and down the ballot.

In a statement provided to Maryland Matters Monday, state Democratic Chairwoman Kathleen Matthews extolled Frosh’s work.

“Attorney General Frosh has been a leader in efforts to fight back against President Trump’s immoral and unconstitutional Muslim ban, hold President Trump accountable for his conflicts of interest, and protect DREAMers,” she said. “In the absence of a governor with the political courage to stand up for Maryland against the destructive Trump agenda, Attorney General Frosh has been a firewall protecting Marylanders from Trump’s policies.”

 

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