Steele, Ehrlich ahead in races, poll shows

A new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, ahead of his leading Democratic challengers in the race for U.S. Senate.

In a head-to-head matchup, Steele leads U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin 45 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll, which surveyed 500 likely voters Jan. 10. Steele leads former U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume by a slightly wider margin, 45 percent to 38 percent.

Voters were also asked whom they will back in the race for governor. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, is leading Democratic Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, 47 percent to 42 percent. The governor is ahead of Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat, 50 percent to 41 percent.

The automated telephone poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percent.

Keith Haller, president of polling group Potomac Inc. of Bethesda, said automated surveys should be interpreted cautiously.

"There's considerable anxiety in the polling profession about the use of automated phone calls for quantitative reliability," said Haller, whose group frequently polls for The Sun. "In part, you can't control the sample. You can't ensure that you end up with a balanced sample."

Jennifer Skalka

Del. Anthony Brown to give King speech

Del. Anthony G. Brown, a Prince George's County Democrat and candidate for lieutenant governor on Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's ticket, will give the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day address to the Maryland House of Delegates tomorrow. He was selected by his colleagues in the Legislative Black Caucus to give the speech, which O'Malley is scheduled to attend.

Brown, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve who missed the last legislative session because he was serving in Iraq, was to have given the Presidents Day speech to the chamber last February. From the Green Zone, he recorded his speech on a DVD and mailed it to Maryland.

But the Department of Defense intervened, arguing that department regulations prohibit speech-giving because it is a political activity.

Jennifer Skalka

Conservation league head leaves for D.C.

Sue Brown, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, is leaving to take a senior position at the National Wildlife Federation in Washington.

Brown said she will be executive director of National Wildlife Action, a part of the organization that performs lobbying and other political activity, and will also help the federation with advocacy campaigns.

Brown was the league's first paid staff member and helped the organization develop its political activism. The organization endorses candidates, issues a report card grading the governor on his conservation efforts and conducts lobbying and grass-roots organizing.

Andrew A. Green

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