Democratic and GOP bids for Maryland governor tight as primary nears

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Before polls open for early voting in Maryland this week, a new survey shows a majority of likely voters haven’t decided who they want to fill the seat vacated by limited-term Governor Larry. Hogan (R).

The pollled by Goucher College, has found no favorites among Democratic or Republican candidates to succeed Hogan as campaigns shift into high gear, running ads in people’s homes, sticking literature in front doors and sweat in parades and farmers markets.

“There are a surprising number of undecided voters across the board, which means people aren’t paying attention,” said Todd Eberly, professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Voters from both parties have another similarity: they worry about inflation.

According to the poll, both Democrats and Republicans described inflation as a “major concern”, with 72% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans describing it as a priority. The same percentage of Republicans cited gas prices as a top concern, while 71% of Democrats cited the environment and climate change. Crime and public safety were top concerns for 83% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats.

Three candidates – State Comptroller Peter Franchot, former US Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and bestselling author and former nonprofit leader Wes Moore – are statistically locked in a three-way tie to lead the race. 10-person race for the Democratic nomination. Only 2 percentage points separate Franchot, who received 16%, and Perez and Moore, who each received 14%.

Meanwhile, the two leading candidates for the Republican nomination, Del. Fredrick’s Dan Cox, who has the backing of former President Donald Trump, and former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who is endorsed by Hogan, are neck and neck with less than three percentage points between them. Cox leads with 25%.

The poll, which polled 403 Democratic and 414 Republican likely voters and has a margin of error of nearly 5%, found 35% of Democratic voters and 44% of Republican voters undecided. Most of those who knew who they would vote for said their decisions were not firm.

Schulz calls on Democrats to support his GOP opponent

The uncertainty in the home stretch has left campaigns making every effort — wherever they can — to connect with voters.

Participation should be low. Earlier this spring, as the state’s highest court considered a legal challenge to the redistricting maps, it pushed back the primary by three weeks, to July 19, which for many is the peak of the summer. Observers said it is now even more important for campaigns to connect with the party’s most loyal voters, ensuring they vote by mail, vote early or show up on Election Day.

“In a low-turnout year, every little push counts, every touch counts,” said Mileah Kromer, professor of political science at Goucher College.

Over the weekend, Perez wiped sweat from his brow as he knocked on doors in Montgomery County Saturday morning before the start of the weekend’s Fourth of July Parade circuit.

As a woman slowly opened her door, Perez quickly rattled off some of his most recent mentions (The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun), handed her a letter with a picture of him and former President Obama on the back ( Obama did not make a statement). endorsement in the race) and asked for his support. At the unanswered doors, he jotted down a personal note that he was sorry to miss them.

Perez said he was confident he would win Montgomery County, where he lives and once served on county council. Four of the 10 candidates running are from the voter-rich county. The lawns of the Silver Spring neighborhood were sparsely dotted with campaign signs for local councils and general elections, and within a gate of each other a Moore sign and a Douglas Gansler sign.

Franchot, who is airing a new television ad in the Baltimore market, announced late Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, had mild symptoms, and would be campaigning from his home until he can safely return to the track.

Moore, who outplayed all of his opponents, launched a new radio ad featuring U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), one of a long list of well-known elected officials who support him. “Wes represents a new generation of leaders with the courage to fight back and solve the problems we face every day,” says Mfume.

Meanwhile, former nonprofit leader Jon Baron, a first-time Democratic contestant who largely self-funds his campaign, also aired a new Baltimore Marketplace TV ad that dismisses past efforts to resolve state problems. Baron received 2% in the poll. Former state attorney general Douglas Gansler, former US education secretary John B. King Jr., Ashwani Jain, retired teacher Ralph Jaffe and socialite Jerome Segal also trailed three top Democratic candidates in the poll with single-digit support.

Maryland has a glass ceiling. Democrats won’t break it this year.

Franchot, who has served as comptroller since 2007 and whose name is the most recognized statewide, remained at the top of the heap. But the poll and its margins seem to show that Franchot’s earlier advantage is shrinking slightly and the race is still wide open.

The poll did not include former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III, who suspended his campaign last month. At the time, Baker indicated that he would officially retire from the race and support one of his opponents. Last week, a state election official said Baker, who was betting on public funding, was still a candidate even though he was not actively campaigning.

No publicly funded candidate has ever dropped out of a race. Under campaign finance laws, Baker was barred from endorsing without returning the million dollars he received from the state to support his campaign.

Another uncertainty in the race is how Baker’s appearance on the ballot will affect votes.

“I think that’s one of the big unknowns,” Kromer said. “Rushern Baker is absolutely going to get some votes.”

Several elected officials who supported Baker have since changed allegiance. Last week, Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin backed Moore, telling a press conference that “there is no other candidate Rushern Baker has spoken about more highly than Wes Moore”.

In the Republican race, Eberly said, the Schulz/Cox horse race shows just how popular Trump is among Republicans — even in Maryland.

“Cox is the ideal candidate for an election that revolves around the base and where most people are not paying attention,” he said.

The two remaining Republican candidates, attorney Joe Werner and former delegate Robin Ficker, recently disbarred, received 3% and 2% respectively in the poll.

Early voting begins Thursday.

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