Council chief, comptroller races close CAMPAIGN 1995


Just days before Tuesday's Democratic primary, the City Council president and city comptroller races are tight, according to a new poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research for The Sun and WMAR-TV Channel 2.

Comptroller candidate Joan M. Pratt has pulled to within three points of Julian L. Lapides, who leads 42 percent to Ms. Pratt's 39 percent, the survey of 620 likely Democratic primary voters showed. Nineteen percent of those polled were undecided.

In the race for City Council president, the poll showed Joseph J. DiBlasi with 22 percent, Lawrence A. Bell III with 21 percent, Vera P. Hall with 18 percent and Carl Stokes with 16 percent. Twenty-two percent of those polled were undecided.

The telephone poll, taken Thursday and Friday, selected respondents at random and had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Ms. Pratt yesterday credited an extensive television and radio campaign for her surge. A July poll in The Sun showed Ms. Pratt 23 points behind Mr. Lapides.

"We think that television and the radio commercials will make the difference," said Ms. Pratt who has outspent Mr. Lapides 3-to-1 in radio and television ads.

Mr. Lapides said he will continue with his usual campaign style and hopes that will take him across the finish line first.

"I'm delighted that I'm still ahead," he said. "We have just two days, and I'm hoping to hold on. . . . I think it will be close."

The City Council president's race continues to be close, the poll showed.

The candidates have been running neck and neck for the past three months, according to two Sun polls. In the July poll, eight percentage points separated the leader and the fourth-place candidate. By last month's poll, the difference was seven percentage points. In this month's poll it is only six points.

Mrs. Hall posted the biggest gain from last month's poll. She jumped five percentage points to 18 percent. Mrs. Hall, closely allied with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's re-election campaign, has radio ads running on nine stations -- the most of any council president candidate.

Like earlier polls, the results of this poll show racial breaks in all the races, said J. Bradford Coker, president of Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research.

Mr. DiBlasi is strong with white voters, and Mr. Bell and Mrs. Hall are strong with black voters, the survey showed. Mr. Stokes had the most cross-racial appeal.

The candidates say the undecided voters are the key to victory.

That undecided voter bloc, split nearly evenly between blacks and whites, has remained the same since the last month, the poll shows.

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