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Three new public opinion polls offer very contradictory glimpses into the race for Montgomery’s county executive.
Incumbent Marc Elrich is the only large-county executive in Maryland to face a tough primary this cycle. He is being challenged by a wealthy businessman, David Blair, County Councilmember Hans Riemer, and Gaithersburg resident Peter James in the July 19 contest.
A survey by Progressives for Progress, a political action committee funded by real estate interests, shows the race tightening. In this snapshot of the electorate, Elrich’s once-massive lead is down to six points.
Elrich was the choice of 33% of Democrats surveyed, followed by Blair at 27%, Riemer at 15% and Peter James at 1%. Nearly a quarter of the electorate was undecided.
In a June survey conducted by the same firm, Columbia-based Gonzales Polls, Elrich led Blair 45%-20%, with Riemer at 15%.
Pollster Patrick Gonzales said a significant shift among self-described “liberal” and “progressive” voters toward Blair accounted for most of the former health care executive’s surge. Although Blair attracted 60% of Democrats who view Elrich unfavorably, more than a third of undecided voters didn’t recognize the name “David Blair.”
The firm surveyed 329 likely Democratic voters between June 30 and July 3; the margin of error was 5.5%. The Washington Post endorsed Blair just prior to the poll, on June 25.
A Garin-Hart-Yang survey commissioned by the Blair campaign also showed the race tightening. Elrich held a 28%-26% lead over Blair in this poll, with Riemer at 18% and 23% undecided. The pollster surveyed 504 Montgomery Democrats and was in the field July 5-6. The margin of error was 4.5%.
A third survey showed Elrich cruising to a second term.
Data for Progress, a left-leaning polling firm, surveyed 461 Democrats between June 30 and July 1. Elrich was the choice of 41% of voters contacted, compared for 20% supporting Blair and 18% backing Riemer.
Elrich held wide leads among every demographic group. He was rated favorably by 55% and unfavorably by 26% of those polled. A poll taken by the same organization a month ago had Elrich at 33%, with 19 point leads on each of his main rivals.
This poll had a margin of error of 5%. The winner of the primary is virtually certain to prevail in November.
The Data for Progress poll also had excellent news for gubernatorial hopeful Tom Perez, a former member of the Montgomery County Council and U.S. Labor Secretary during the Obama years.
Perez was the choice of 25% of Montgomery Democrats surveyed, far outpacing second-place finishers Wes Moore and Peter Franchot, both of whom had 15% support. Franchot is a Takoma Park resident who represented the county in the House of Delegates for 20 years. Moore’s running mate is former Del. Aruna Miller (D-Montgomery).
The other Democrats running in the primary finished in the low single digits.
New ads launch
Del. Brooke Lierman released a new ad this week with a formidable lineup of Maryland’s most powerful women.
The ad, titled “Champion,” features Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D), Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County), Sen. Delores Kelley (D-Baltimore County), Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery), and more than a dozen others.
“I’ve worked with Brooke for years. She gets big things done for our families and communities,” Jones says in the ad.
“We trust Brooke to be our champion and fight for a better future for every Marylander,” Alsobrooks says.
The ad will be airing across the state on TV and digital platforms while a new radio ad from Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) begins airing in the Baltimore media market.
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wes Moore was out with a new ad this week as well, featuring another powerful female figure: Oprah Winfrey.
Winfrey, who headlined a virtual fundraiser in June to support Moore, narrates the ad, which features a condensed breakdown of Moore’s life story and resume.
“The type of transformational leader that these times demand – that’s Wes Moore for Maryland governor,” Winfrey concludes.
The ad will air on TV as well as digitally across Maryland, and is complemented by a longer radio spot, also narrated by Winfrey.
Earlier this week, the campaign launched another ad featuring Moore’s endorsements in Prince George’s County, including Alsobrooks.