By Josh Kurtz
Baltimore County state Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D), a top Republican target this year, has opened up a 16-point lead over her likely GOP challenger, Del. Christian J. Miele, according to a recent Democratic poll.
The survey, conducted by TargetSmart Communications, a Washington, D.C., political data firm, showed Klausmeier with 55 percent in an initial head-to-head matchup, and Miele with 39 percent. Six percent of the voters queried were undecided.
The poll of 400 registered voters in the 8th District, taken Jan. 20-23, had a 4.9-point margin of error.
Klausmeier, who is completing her fourth term in the Senate and previously spent eight years in the House of Delegates, has high name recognition in the district, which takes in Perry Hall, Parkville, White Marsh and other communities. Seventy-four percent of voters recognized her name, and she was viewed favorably by 41 percent of voters compared to 19 percent who viewed her unfavorably.
Miele, by contrast, was known to just 41 percent of the voters. He is completing his first term in the House.
In a swing district where Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan (R) is expected to do extremely well this year, Klausmeier picked up almost one-quarter of Republican voters in the TargetSmart poll (24 percent), compared to 70 percent who preferred Miele.
Klausmeier was the choice of 90 percent of Democrats compared to 8 percent who said they’d vote for Miele. Among nonaffiliated voters, Klausmeier led 47 percent to 42 percent.
“Klausmeier is a brand unto her own, and as a result holds a strong advantage over Miele today, despite Governor Hogan’s popularity and the premium he has put on flipping this seat to Republican control,” TargetSmart pollster Ben Lazarus wrote in a memo that accompanied the poll. “As the campaign engages and Democrats coalesce around a nominee, we suspect Hogan’s numbers will soften, and in tandem his ability to impact this state Senate race.”
Hogan, who appeared with Miele as he announced his Senate bid, is hoping the Republicans can flip five Democratic-held Senate seats, which would make it more difficult for the legislature to override Hogan’s vetoes if he wins a second term in November.
The Democrats believe that the recently enacted federal tax cuts will work to their advantage in the Klausmeier-Miele race.
Forty percent of the voters surveyed said the new law would not have much of an impact on their tax bill; 26 percent said they expected to pay more taxes, and 25 percent said they expected to pay less.
Asked who would benefit most from the tax law – which passed Congress without a single Democratic vote – 53 percent said wealthy families and large corporations, while 31 percent said middle class families and small businesses.
“Kathy Klausmeier is very popular with her constituents and solidly positioned for re-election,” Lazarus wrote.
Taking Sides in District 6
The endorsements are coming fast and furious in the Democratic primary for the open seat in the 6th congressional district.
The first of the week was Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) endorsing businessman David Trone. The 6th District does not touch Prince George’s County, but Baker is running for governor and has led the most recent Democratic primary polls.
The two men said they bonded over their mutual interest in combating Alzheimer’s disease – Trone’s father died of Alzheimer’s, and Baker’s wife is suffering from it.
“I know he will fight every day in Washington to protect funding to eradicate this horrible disease and be a fierce advocate for the values and issues that matter to working families in Maryland,” Baker said of Trone.
Trone hosted a fundraiser for Baker’s campaign in the fall, and the Trone family have been major donors to Baker’s campaign – giving $39,000 collectively, according to The Washington Post.
But some critics were wondering why Baker would want to wade into the race to replace U.S. Rep. John K. Delaney (D), who is retiring to run for president in 2020. Supporters of one of Trone’s Democratic primary opponents, Del. Aruna Miller, were particular piqued, and quickly responded by rolling out a list of endorsements on Wednesday – many of them from Miller’s women colleagues in the House of Delegates.
The endorsements were from: Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), Ways and Means Chairwoman Emerita Sheila E. Hixson (D-Montgomery), Appropriations Chairwoman Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), Environment and Transportation Chairman Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery), Ways and Means Chairwoman Anne R. Kaiser, Health and Government Operations Chairwoman Shane E. Pendergrass, Judiciary Chairman Joseph F. Vallario (D-Prince George’s), Judiciary Vice Chairwoman Kathleen M. Dumais (D-Montgomery), Appropriations Vice Chairwoman Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George’s), and Women’s Caucus President Ariana B. Kelly (D-Montgomery).
“I’ve gotten to know Aruna pretty well over the past few years and I know that there is nothing she can’t do if she puts her mind to it,” McIntosh said. “She is an enthusiastic problem solver, a dedicated public servant and an empathetic legislator. We hate to see her go, but she will be an excellent congresswoman for the 6th District.”
Not to be outdone, a third Democrat, state Sen. Roger Manno, announced Thursday that he’s been endorsed by the Maryland State United Autoworkers Community Action Program.
Unions are backing Manno almost exclusively in the primary, and the UAW has a strong presence in the 6th District, with a Volvo/Mack manufacturing plant in Hagerstown.
“Roger has worked tirelessly with UAW to advance manufacturing in this state, bringing living wage jobs to working people,” said Fred Swanner, president of the Maryland State UAW Community Action Program.