Poll: Frosh Leads GOP Foe But Not By Much

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) has a strong shot at winning a second term, according to a new public opinion poll, but his relatively modest lead over a largely unknown and underfunded challenger is likely to raise eyebrows. Frosh was the choice of 43 percent of those surveyed by Gonzales Research and Media Services. Republican Craig Wolf, former CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and a former federal prosecutor, had the support of 34 percent of voters. Nearly one in four voters was undecided. The Gonzales survey compiled the choices of 806 likely voters. The poll’s a margin of error was 3.5 points.  Typically Democrats running statewide in Maryland win overwhelmingly. Frosh’s relatively narrow lead will give the hard-charging Wolf fresh momentum heading into the final weeks of campaigning and the two debates the pair have scheduled.

Wolf is beginning to air his second TV ad of the campaign, following up on the theme he has hammered throughout the campaign, that Frosh is focusing too much on suing the Trump administration instead of fighting crime on the home front.

“Stop focusing so much on what’s going on in Washington and start focusing more on what’s going on in Baltimore,” a crime victim says in the ad. Frosh had a large lead among Democrats (63-16), African-Americans (59-16) and residents of the DC region (53-22). He had a 5-point edge in the Baltimore region (41-36). But Wolf led handily among GOP voters (71-12), whites (40-38) and residents of the state’s more rural communities (45-31). Independent voters favored the incumbent 31 percent to 27 percent, with a whopping 42 percent undecided. Howard County voters were split, with each candidate attracting 41.7 percent support. “This is still blue Maryland, and it is hard to imagine Democrat Frosh being defeated, an upset that would shake the walls of quaint Annapolis to their very foundation,” said pollster Patrick Gonzales. He suggested that Frosh’s frequent crusades against President Trump, which have generated national headlines, may have created the impression that he’s too focused on Washington. “Concerning the Emoluments Clause, offshore drilling, the tax reform law, air pollution, attempts to sabotage Obamacare, for-profit colleges, and other examples, one can easily argue the merits of each case, but not in dispute is that Attorney General Frosh has spent a sizable chunk of time and effort the past 18 months suing the federal government and, at times, appearing obsessed with battling the Trump administration,” he added. “Perhaps Maryland voters want the Maryland Attorney General to shift his focus a tad to issues more within the confines of Old Line borders.” The same survey that showed Frosh leading by 9 points also puts Gov. Larry Hogan (R) firmly in the driver’s seat as he seeks a second term.  [See related story]  Maryland voters take a dim view of Trump, with 41 percent voicing approval and 55 percent expressing disapproval of his handling of his job. Frosh, a former state senator who once chaired the Judicial Proceedings Committee, was elected attorney general in 2014, attracting 55.6 percent of the vote.  He recently declined an opportunity to debate Wolf at Fox45, a Baltimore station owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group.  The debate was to be moderated by Mark Hyman, a conservative commentator at the station. Instead, Wolf and Frosh will hold two law school debates in the coming weeks.

bruce@marylandmatters.org 

Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent more than two decades on local television, including 14 years as host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the D.C. metro region. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County, as well as a reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. Bruce also is the host of the weekly The Bruce DePuyt Podcast.

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