The Republican race for Cecil County executive — one of the most hard-fought primaries on the April 28 ballot — is increasingly looking like a two-way battle, a recent poll commissioned by the Maryland Republican Party found.
But more than 40% of likely voters were undecided.
The poll of 300 likely GOP primary voters, taken Feb. 4-6, showed the incumbent, Alan McCarthy, leading the four-way field with 26.2%. Next was Danielle Hornberger, an aide to U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R-Md.) and wife of Del. Kevin C. Hornberger (R), with 20.4%.
County Councilman Bill Coutz and Hogan administration official Ewing McDowell trailed far behind, with 5.7% and 5.3%, respectively. Fully 41.3% of voters said they were undecided.
The poll had a relatively high 5.77-point margin of error.
Hornberger has been aggressively criticizing McCarthy for his fiscal stewardship of the county and is trying to portray herself as the true conservative in the race, touting her ties to Harris and to President Trump. Asked in the poll if they’d be more or less likely to support a candidate “closely aligned” with Trump, 78% said more likely and 9.8% said less likely.
Asked the same question about Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), 60.8% of Republican voters said they’d be more likely to support a candidate closely aligned with the governor, while 19.2% said they’d be less likely.
Hogan has remained neutral in the race, but former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) hasn’t: He has endorsed McCarthy for reelection.
Other than McCarthy, who is completing his first term, none of the candidates is well known, according to the poll. Only 20.5% of voters said they’d never heard of McCarthy, compared to 33.9% who had never heard of Hornberger, 55.3% who had never heard of McDowell, and 58.5% who had never heard of Coutz.
McCarthy was viewed favorably by 34.6% of GOP primary voters, while 25% said they viewed him unfavorably.
Hornberger took to Facebook Wednesday to tout the results.
“I was not surprised to learn that my numbers are so high despite McCarthy’s campaign war chest funded by Democrats and Baltimore developers,” she wrote. “For months I’ve been hearing from voters around the district that they are angry at my opponent’s irresponsible tax hikes. I have been knocking on hundreds of doors and I keep hearing the same thing – it’s time for McCarthy and his tax increases to go.”
The winner of the GOP primary will be heavily favored in the general election over Jeff Kase, a member of the Democratic Central Committee.