Rob Sobhani, the Montgomery County businessman who announced an independent run for the U.S. Senate only this month, has leapt to a statistical tie for second place in the race, according to a Gonzalez poll of Maryland voters released Wednesday.
Fifty percent of respondents said they would vote to reelect Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, to a second term. Twenty-two percent said they would vote for Republican former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino; 21 percent said they would vote for Sobhani.
The telephone survey of 813 registered voters from Sept. 13 through 17 by Gonzalez Research and Marketing Strategies has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
Sobhani, who lost Republican primaries for the Senate in 1992 and 2000, was the first candidate in the general election to advertise on television. He has spent more than $1.5 million of his own money so far on spots that have aired heavily in Baltimore and Washington.
Sobhani's campaign e-mailed the results to reporters Wednesday morning.
"Any poll is only a snapshot in time, and what this poll shows is that in a scant three weeks, Rob's support has grown to 21 points from nowhere," said spokesman Sam Patten, who called the number "only the beginning."
Sobhani polled ahead of Bongino among women and among African-American voters; Bongino polled ahead of Sobhani among male and among white voters. Cardin led in all categories.