- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 1, 2006

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin leads Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in the race for the U.S. Senate, according to a poll released Friday by Zogby International.

Mr. Cardin, a Democrat, received 48.8 percent support, and Mr. Steele, a Republican, drew 39.4 percent in a poll of an undisclosed number of online respondents who regularly participate in Zogby polls.

Former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, the second-place Democratic contender, also scored ahead of Mr. Steele when voters were asked to choose between the two candidates. Mr. Mfume received 45.3 percent of the votes, compared with Mr. Steele’s 43.5 percent.

The poll’s online results were verified by phone calls to about 2 percent of the respondents, in addition to 20 to 50 phone calls to likely voters who were not part of the poll, according to the report released by the Wall Street Journal Online.

The poll’s margin of error was 3.8 percent.

Mr. Steele has led in several polls since the fall, but has trailed in most.

Cardin spokesman Oren Shur said the poll shows that Marylanders “want their next senator to be an effective leader with strong Democratic principles, not an enthusiastic voice of support for the Bush agenda.”

Democrats have consistently linked Mr. Steele to President Bush, whose approval ratings have been the lowest of his presidency.

Mr. Shur referenced the “Bush-Steele” agenda and said “the people of Maryland … know it’s taking us backwards.”

Mfume spokesman Walter Ludwig downplayed the poll’s results, but said he was “pleased.”

“This is a Democratic state, and it’s unsurprising that Democrats are ahead of Republicans in a poll right now,” he said.

In the Maryland gubernatorial race, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, has hired Josh White as the campaign’s deputy director.

Mr. White is the former executive director of the state’s Democratic Party.

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