Exclusive: Poll Shows Incumbent Trailing Badly in Cecil County GOP Race

    Danielle Hornberger announces her bid for Cecil County executive last fall. Hornberger campaign photo

    Danielle Hornberger, an aide to U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R-Md.), has taken a commanding lead over incumbent Alan McCarthy in the Republican primary for Cecil County executive, a poll commissioned by the Maryland Republican Party shows.

    The survey of 300 likely GOP primary voters, taken Monday through Wednesday, showed Hornberger the choice of 45.3%, compared to McCarthy’s 22%. Hogan administration official Ewing McDowell took 8.7% and County Councilman Bill Coutz took 6%, while another 17.3% of voters were undecided.

    The poll, conducted by Conquest Communications Group, a Richmond, Va., firm, had a 5.77-point margin of error.

    Hornberger, the wife of state Del. Kevin C. Hornberger (R), has run an aggressive campaign against McCarthy, spotlighting property and sales tax increases in the county during his administration. She has also sought to portray herself as the most enthusiastic supporter of President Trump in the race — and enjoys the support of Harris, the local congressman.

    Trump’s favorable rating among Cecil County Republicans stood at 82% in the poll, and 72.7% said they’d be more likely to support a candidate “who is closely aligned” with Trump. In the poll, 58.3% of Republicans said they’d be more likely to support a candidate “who is closely aligned” with Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), who is publicly neutral in the race.

    McCarthy is the best-known of the four county executive candidates, the poll found: Only 10.7% of GOP voters said they had never heard of him. But his favorability ratings were underwater: 34% of voters said they viewed him favorably, compared to 38% who viewed him unfavorably. Seventeen percent said they had no opinion.

    Hornberger had a 49.3% to 12% favorable-unfavorable rating, with 24.7% of voters saying they had no opinion. Another 13.7% said they had not heard of her.

    In a conservative county, the GOP primary winner will be heavily favored in the general election over Jeff Kase, a member of the county’s Democratic Central Committee.

    The Republican poll also tested voters on the one competitive County Council primary on the June 2 ballot. In that race, Councilwoman Jackie Gregory had 43% compared to 22.7% for her challenger, businessman Don Harmer. One-third of the voters were undecided.

    The error margin was the same as for the county executive race.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.