- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 12, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is losing popularity among Marylanders, according to a poll conducted for the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
The Maryland Poll, conducted by Bethesda-based Potomac Inc., shows that the Democratic lieutenant governor would defeat U.S. Rep. Robert B. Ehrlich in a contest for governor by 15 percentage points, with 14 percent undecided, if the election were held today.
Mr. Ehrlich of Baltimore County is considered the top Republican contender for the post.
However, support for Mrs. Townsend, who has raised $6 million but has yet to announce her candidacy, has dropped by 6 percent from the same time last year, and her favorable ratings have declined even more.
The telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted between Jan. 2 and Jan. 4, and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Mrs. Townsend's drop in popularity coincides with a similar slide for Gov. Parris N. Glendening, whose job-performance rating is at its lowest since the Sun began tracking it four years ago.
Mrs. Townsend had no comment on the results.
"The lieutenant governor is very appreciative of the strong showing of support," said her Chief of Staff Alan Fleischmann, "but she does not comment on polls, and is focused on her work during the legislative session."
At the same time, voters in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 were as likely to name the Republican Party as the Democratic Party as being best able to handle critical issues.
The results mirror those released Wednesday, showing President Bush has unprecedented support in Maryland.
The poll also showed that Mrs. Townsend would beat Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley by 22 percentage points if they were to meet in a Democratic primary, with 18 percent undecided.
Mr. O'Malley has not decided whether he will run for governor, and the poll showed that voters statewide would rather see him finish his mayoral term. Mr. O'Malley had no comment on the poll Thursday.
But if he were to face Mr. Ehrlich in a gubernatorial contest, the poll shows Mr. O'Malley would win by 20 points, with 26 percent undecided. Voters in Mr. Ehrlich's Baltimore County base also chose Mr. O'Malley, and the poll shows the mayor is better-known statewide.
O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney said the mayor's solid achievement and style are responsible for his popularity.

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