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Szeliga holds slight edge in GOP Senate primary race, poll finds

Baltimore Sun/UB poll shows Kathy Szeliga holds early advantage in Republican primary for senate.

Kathy Szeliga holds a slight edge in the Republican primary race for Senate, as candidates hope to harness the momentum from the party's gubernatorial win last year in replacing retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

The Republicans running for the job have received less attention, largely because they face a steeper climb in the general election in deeply Democratic Maryland. Szeliga, a Baltimore County Republican and the House of Delegates Minority Whip, leads the field with 15 percent of likely GOP voters.

All others are in single digits.

The candidates are competing for the seat left open by Mikulski's retirement in 2017 — a primary race that has been considered among the most competitive in the country. Mikulski, 79, shocked the state's political apparatus in March by announcing she would step down after four decades in Congress.

Republicans are hoping that GOP Gov. Larry Hogan's surprise win last year has cleared a path for others — despite the Democrats' two-to-one advantage in voter registration. Several have declared or are considering a run for the party's nomination.

Szeliga, who announced her candidacy this month, has worked quickly to coalesce the support of the state's Republican powers.

Richard Douglas, a former Pentagon official who ran for the GOP Senate nomination in 2012, trails Szeliga with 9 percent of likely GOP primary voters surveyed. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who is considering a campaign, is supported by 8 percent.

Nearly 6 in 10 Republican voters in Maryland have not yet chosen a candidate, the poll found.

Maryland's primary ballot will include candidates for president, but that won't necessarily mean a boost in turnout.

Here's a big picture of the race, including how the Democratic side is playing out.

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