Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has touted his experience as a former state politician as one reason fellow Democrats should elect him to challenge Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
A two-part poll released last week by Gonzalez Research & Media Services of Arnold, Maryland, show Baker as the top choice in the June 26 primary. However, the other poll that focused on the general election still shows Hogan with a 71 percent job approval rating among voters statewide.
According to the primary election poll, 24 percent would vote for Baker if the election were held today. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenentz received 14.2 percent and former NAACP President Ben Jealous came in third at 13.8 percent.
The rest of candidates stood at single digits: policy consultant Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who dropped out the race this month, at 5.8 percent; state Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) at 4.8 percent; Krish Vignarajah, former policy adviser for first lady Michelle Obama, at 1.6 percent; tech entrepreneur Alec Ross at 1.4 percent; and lawyer Jim Shea at 1 percent.
About 33 percent of the 501 people who participated in the primary election survey are undecided.
The general election survey had 823 voters registered voters who indicated they’re likely to vote in November.
The research firm conducted the poll between Dec. 27 to Jan. 5.
Patrick E. Gonzalez, who runs the firm, said Baker is helped by his residency in the D.C. area, where he received 44 percent of the vote in Prince George’s, Montgomery, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.
“He comes from the region of the state that delivers most of the votes in the Democratic primary,” Gonzalez said in an interview. “Part of it is also he is very popular in his own county and he has a significant level of support in neighboring Montgomery County. Between those two, he has about a quarter of the vote which gives him a 10-point lead.”
The poll shows Baker also received the highest percentage of African-American voters at 30 percent. However, 34 percent of those voters are still undecided.
Meanwhile, Baker’s campaign said in a statement Friday, Jan. 12 that it raised slightly more than $1 million so far. The campaign attributes 73 percent came from Marylanders.
Baker said voters have seen improvement in Prince George’s, such as leading the state in job growth and decreasing homicides from last year by 18 percent.
“If we can do things in Prince George’s County, imaging what we can do with the right leadership across the state,” he said. “I think that’s what’s resonating with people.”
Although Democrats approve of Baker going against Hogan in the general election, the Gonzalez poll shows Hogan at 47 percent compared to Baker’s 37 percent.
In terms of regional votes in the state, Hogan only received only 21 percent of the votes in the Washington metro area and 24 percent in Baltimore City. However, Baker would receive about 12 percent of the general election vote on the Eastern Shore and western Maryland.
The poll raised questions about President Donald Trump.
For instance, 60 percent of those surveyed in the general election poll don’t approve of Trump’s work in the White House. About 41 percent of the voters in primary poll chose “removing Donald Trump” as the “most important issue in the election.”
All seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates have pushed a connection between Trump and Hogan.
Kevin Harris, chief strategist for the Jealous campaign, said in a statement that approval ratings don’t matter, only voter turnout.
“Most Marylanders still aren’t willing to give Hogan a second term because they can’t name anything he’s done to actually make their lives better,” Harris said. “The truth is, Hogan trying not to be Donald Trump doesn’t actually help to stop our schools from failing, health care premiums from rising or stop the record numbers of deaths happening from the opioid epidemic and gun violence.”
Gonzalez said this year’s election may be the state’s most historic since 2006 when former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich sought re-election to a second, four-year term and lost to Democrat Martin O’Malley, a former mayor of Baltimore during that time.
In addition, Gonzalez said this year’s competitive Democratic primary helped increase interest throughout the state.
“It’s going to be 10 months of political excitement,” he said.