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Maryland Democrat with most name recognition isn't among 7 running for governor, poll says

The crowded Democratic primary race for governor has no clear front runner and most candidates have very low name recognition statewide, a new poll found.

Forty-four percent of Democratic primary voters surveyed in a Goucher Poll released Tuesday said they were undecided about the June 26 primary.

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The candidate with the most potential support — former Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler — announced last week that he would not join the race.

Even that support was lackluster: 28 percent of the 324 Democrats surveyed Sept. 14-18 said they would consider voting for him, and 61 percent said they did not know enough to judge — a high percentage for a former statewide official who spent millions just four years ago trying to woo voters.

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Ex-Attorney General Doug Gansler, who came in second in the 2014 Democratic primary for governor, said he will sit out the race for the nomination to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan next year.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker was the only other candidate with support above 20-percent, and full 70 percent of Democratic voters said they didn't know enough about him to decide.

"It's really hard to distinguish who's ahead," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher.

While Maryland Democrats have been heavily engaged in national politics since the November election, Kromer said, that interest has not transferred to the governor's race.

"Democrats are really jazzed up with the resistance with Donald Trump," Kromer said. "They're hanging on, watching scandal-to-scandal in the Trump administration. The switch has not flipped, so much, for Democratic voters to pay attention to state politics."

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The poll, which has a 5.4 percentage point margin of error, found:

  • If the election were held tomorrow, 13 percent of those surveyed would vote for Baker.
  • For Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, 17 percent of those surveyed said they would consider voting for him, and 72 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. If the election were held tomorrow, 8 percent would vote for him.
  • For Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the head of a Washington public policy firm who is married to Democratic Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, 9 percent of those surveyed said they would consider voting for her, and 86 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. If the election were held tomorrow, 8 percent would vote for her. Rockeymoore Cummings has not formally entered the race.
  • For former NAACP CEO Ben Jealous, 14 percent of those surveyed said they would consider voting for him, and 77 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. If the election were held tomorrow, 6 percent would vote for him.
  • For State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, 8 percent of those surveyed said they would consider voting for him, and 86 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. If the election were held tomorrow, 2 percent would vote for him.
  • For Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea, 6 percent of those surveyed said they would consider voting for him, and 86 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. If the election were held tomorrow, 2 percent would vote for him.
  • For tech entrepreneur and author Alec Ross, 5 percent of those surveyed said they would consider voting for him, and 89 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. If the election were held tomorrow, 1 percent would vote for him.
  • For Krish Vignarajah, 2 percent of those surveyed said they would consider voting for her, and 93 percent said they didn’t know enough to answer. If the election were held tomorrow, 1 percent would vote for her.

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