Van Hollen main­tains lead over Szeliga in polls

Cecil Whig - - REGIONAL - By BRAD KRONER

bkro­ner@ches­pub.com

— Down in the polls and run­ning for a Se­nate seat in a blue state, Repub­li­can Kathy Szeliga is hop­ing Mary­land’s per­ceived shift to­ward her party can give her a boost in the gen­eral elec­tion against Demo­crat Chris Van Hollen.

Szeliga, a Mary­land Del­e­gate who rep­re­sents por­tions of Bal­ti­more and Har­ford coun­ties, and Van

ANNAPOLIS

Hollen, a con­gress­man rep­re­sent­ing Mary­land’s eighth district, are run­ning for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikul­ski’s seat, which will be va­cant when the long­time Demo­cratic sen­a­tor re­tires at the end of her term.

Mikul­ski, who has served 30 years in the se­nate, has en­dorsed Van Hollen, who has rep­re­sented the state in Con­gress since 2002.

A re­cent poll from Opin­ionWorks, an An­napolis­based poll­ster, showed that Van Hollen was lead­ing with 55 per­cent of prob­a­ble vot­ers com­pared to Szeliga’s 26 per­cent. Nine­teen per­cent of polled vot­ers were un­sure of their pick.

A new poll from Goucher Col­lege shows Van Hollen re­ceiv­ing 54 per­cent and Szeliga re­ceiv­ing 24 per­cent.

The Goucher poll in­di­cates that Mary­lan­ders were more cer­tain of their views on Van Hollen than Szeliga. Only 30 per­cent of re­spon­dents were un­sure of their thoughts on Van Hollen, but 56 per­cent of re­spon­dents were un­sure of their view on Szeliga.

Fifty per­cent of poll re­spon­dents have a fa­vor­able view of Van Hollen, and 19 per­cent had an un­fa­vor­able view. Twenty-eight per­cent of re­spon­dents had a fa­vor­able view of Szeliga, while 15 per­cent had an un­fa­vor­able view.

Van Hollen said in an in­ter­view that he plans to “run even harder, right though the fin­ish line and work even harder” to win more votes for the elec­tion.

On the other hand, Szeliga and her press sec­re­tary, Les­lie Sheed, ques­tioned the poll’s re­sults, say­ing that the poll can’t be valid be­cause it “un­der­sam­pled reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans.”

How­ever, reg­is­tered Democrats out­num­ber reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans by a 2-1 ra­tio in Mary­land. The blue state is home to around 2 mil­lion reg­is­tered Democrats and around 1 mil­lion reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans.

Steve Raabe, the poll­ster’s di­rec­tor, said the crit­i­cism is the “typ­i­cal re­frain from can­di­dates who don’t like the re­sults of the poll.”

Szeliga ar­gues that the state is “turn­ing pur­ple,” ev­i­denced by the wide­spread pop­u­lar­ity of Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan, as well as the Repub­li­can Party’s 2014 sweep of Mary­land’s sixth leg­isla­tive district, for­merly a Demo­cratic strong­hold. Szeliga hopes that what her cam­paign calls “the pur­pling of Mary­land” gives her cam­paign a boost as the gen­eral elec­tion ap­proaches.

Ho­gan has en­dorsed Szeliga, a for­mer teacher and busi­ness­woman who cur­rently serves as the mi­nor­ity whip in Mary­land’s House of Del­e­gates.

“She’s been a great leader in the state leg­is­la­ture,” he said in July. “She’s tough. She’s a fighter. She’s a busi­ness­woman. She un­der­stands the is­sues of ev­ery­day Mary­lan­ders. And I be­lieve she’ll make an out­stand­ing United States sen­a­tor.”

She hopes that his en­dorse­ment — and his pop­u­lar­ity — will help her chances in Novem­ber.

Ho­gan has high fa­vor­a­bil­ity rat­ings, even among Democrats. Ac­cord­ing to Opin­ionWorks, 71 per­cent of Mary­lan­ders ap­prove of Ho­gan’s per­for­mance, and only 14 per­cent dis­ap­prove. Fif­teen per­cent are un­sure.

Raabe ex­plained that Ho­gan’s ap­peal comes from his im­age as a non­par­ti­san fig­ure.

“Gov. Ho­gan — who we all know is very pop­u­lar — has not yet shifted his pop­u­lar­ity onto [Szeliga] yet,” Raabe said. “That hasn’t con­nected for vot­ers yet.”

Nei­ther Ho­gan nor Szeliga has of­fi­cially en­dorsed Don­ald Trump, the Repub­li­can Party’s nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent, but Szeliga did say that she would “sup­port the party’s nom­i­nee.”

Szeliga re­ceived 35 per­cent of the vote in Mary­land’s Repub­li­can Pri­mary, re­ceiv­ing 135,337 votes. Van Hollen re­ceived over 50 per­cent of the vote in Mary­land’s Demo­cratic Pri­mary, re­ceiv­ing 470,320 to­tal votes, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land State Board of Elec­tions.

Sen­a­tors serve six-year terms that are stag­gered by three years, mean­ing that se­nate elec­tions oc­cur ev­ery three years. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who will be­come Mary­land’s se­nior sen­a­tor af­ter Mikul­ski’s re­tire­ment, was re-elected to his Se­nate seat in 2012 and will face re-elec­tion against in 2018.

The U.S. gen­eral elec­tion will take place Tues­day, Nov. 8.

SZELIGA

VAN HOLLEN

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