The Maryland State Education Association and Service Employees international Union have launched a $75,000 campaign targeting likely voters in Anne Arundel County in a last-minute bid to boost the candidacy of Steuart Pittman, the Democratic challenger in the county executive election.
So far this campaign season, Pittman has been substantially outspent by incumbent executive Steven R. Schuh (R), who retained twice the amount of cash on hand as Pittman at last week’s campaign finance reporting deadline.
Pittman, a horse farmer who is endorsed by the state teachers’ union, has promised to increase teacher pay, reduce class sizes and address overcrowding.
In announcing the expenditure, MSEA also released poll results showing a close race, with Schuh polling barely ahead, at 46 percent to Pittman’s 45.3 percent.
“Steuart Pittman is well-positioned to win the Anne Arundel County Executive race,” said MSEA Political Director Sean Johnson. “Voters making up their minds late in this race will decide the outcome, and Pittman is winning those late deciders by a significant margin. Educators are committed to working hard to knock every door and contact every voter possible until the polls close on November 6.”
The poll was taken by Change Research between Oct. 21 and 25. The opinions came from an online panel of 334 registered voters in Anne Arundel County. The margin of error was 5.4 points.
The poll may not be ideal: The sample size is low and it is late in the election season to poll registered voters as opposed to likely voters.
Pittman, a political novice, has been exceeding expectations, but Schuh is still considered the favorite, especially in a county that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) is expected to win big.
MSEA said the poll shows that late-decision voters are tending to break in Pittman’s favor. About 31 percent of those deciding late said they will vote for Pittman, compared to about 24 percent for Schuh, according to a news release touting the results.
In earlier polls conducted by the Center for the Study of Local Issues in March and October, Schuh maintained leads of 15 points and 5 points, respectively.
The poll also found that education is the top issue for Anne Arundel County residents, with nearly 15 percent naming it as their top issue.
The three video ads released Monday — two last five seconds, the other runs for 15 seconds — address Pittman’s education plans and the importance of protecting health care for county residents.