- The Washington Times - Friday, July 2, 2010
Republican challenger Robert Ehrlich now leads Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley in the rematch of their 2006 gubernatorial contest, according to a new poll released Friday.

Mr. Ehrlich has opened up a 3 percentage point lead over the Democratic governor in one of the nation’s more liberal states, according to an automated survey of over 750 likely voters by the polling firm Magellan Strategies. It is the first poll to show the one-term former GOP governor ahead in the race.

According to the Magellan poll, Mr. Ehrlich was preferred by 46 percent of state voters to 43 percent for Mr. O'Malley, a close political ally of President Obama. About 4 percent of those polled preferred another candidate and 7 percent were undecided.

The spread was within the poll’s 3.5 percent margin of error, but another finding suggested more political troubles for the Democratic incumbent. Only 41 percent of Maryland voters said they had a favorable opinion of the governor, compared to 45 percent with an unfavorable opinion. For Mr. Ehrlich, 51 percent of voters reported having a favorable opinion vs. 32 percent with a negative opinion.

Mr. O'Malley still claimed a slight edge with the state’s crucial independent voter bloc, leading by a 38 percent to 34 percent margin, but nearly a third of the independent vote is either backing another candidate or is still up for grabs, according to the Magellan poll.

Mr. O'Malley ousted Mr. Ehrlich in 2006 by a 52 percent to 46 percent margin. The political reporting site CQToday.com rates Mr. O'Malley as a slight favorite to defeat Mr. Ehrlich again in November.

Mr. Ehrlich this week tapped former Maryland Secretary of State Mary D. Kane as his running mate in November. The selection of Ms. Kane, a resident of Maryland’s Washington D.C. suburbs, was seen as an effort by the Republican to reach out to the vote-rich areas around the city.

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