- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — A poll shows Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley leading Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in a potential race for governor.

Mr. O’Malley leads Mr. Ehrlich, 45 percent to 39 percent, with about one in six likely voters undecided.

In January, the governor and mayor were deadlocked, each getting the support of 40 percent of respondents, with 20 percent undecided.

Neither man has officially announced his candidacy for governor next year.

The survey results show a downward shift in the governor’s job approval rating since January, the last time Potomac Inc. questioned likely voters on state politics and issues.

The three-month period was dominated by news of an aide to the governor spreading infidelity rumors about Mr. O’Malley, and a legislative decision to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year giving the legislature veto power over the sale of certain state land. Still, more than half of potential voters say they like the job the governor is doing and tend to hold a favorable personal view of him.

Voters overwhelmingly say Mr. Ehrlich does a good job communicating his priorities to them, although in general they disapprove of the way he has handled key issues facing the state.

Mr. Ehrlich would defeat the other top Democratic contender for governor, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, 44 percent to 38 percent, in a general election pairing, the survey showed.

Eighteen percent of those surveyed were undecided.

The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted by telephone last Monday through Wednesday. It had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver predicted the governor’s dip in popularity was temporary and said he would be buoyed by visiting voters across the state.

“As far as the governor’s numbers, following the session the governor will do what the governor has done after previous sessions and what he does best: take his message on the road,” Miss DeLeaver said.

But O’Malley supporters say the shift toward their candidate reflects failings in the governor’s leadership.

In a primary for governor, Mr. O’Malley would beat Mr. Duncan, 45 percent to 25 percent, with 29 percent undecided, the poll results showed.

In January, Mr. O’Malley was up 50 percent to 27 percent over Mr. Duncan, with 23 percent undecided.

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