John Delaney Poll Shows Big Lead as Martin O'Malley Backs Rob Garagiola

State Sen. Rob Garagiola (right) trailed businessman John Delaney (left) by a wide margin according to polls done for Delaney's campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

State Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola and businessman John Delaney are playing their trump cards today, as the race for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's 6th district enters the homestretch.

Garagiola announced he has the backing of Gov. Martin O'Malley, the state's most prominent Democrat. Hours after news of the endorsement surfaced, the Delaney campaign released two internal polls showing him way up over his rivals with less than a week to go before Tuesday's primary.

The latest poll, conducted March 26-27, showed Delaney garnering 49 percent of the vote, with Garagiola garnering 23 percent of the vote. Dr. Milad Pooran came in third with 10 percent. Sixteen percent of those surveyed were undecided. The winner of the Democratic primary will challenge Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in the fall in a race that Democrats are slightly favored to win.

The forthcoming O'Malley endorsement has the potential to shake up the race in its waning days and give Garagiola's struggling campaign a needed boost. Delaney is viewed as having the late momentum in the race, despite the fact that Garagiola started out as the prohibitive frontrunner because of his establishment support and experience as an elected official.

“In the State Senate, Rob has been a leader in creating green jobs and developing a renewable energy industry in Maryland," O'Malley said in a statement released by Garagiola's campaign. "He has never shied away from casting the difficult and tough votes necessary to move our State forward.”

Garagiola had early momentum, but many point to Delaney's endorsements from President Bill Clinton, the Washington Post editorial board and Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) as the reasons momentum has shifted to his camp. Delaney has also flooded the TV airwaves and spent heavily, including from his own pocket, while Garagiola's campaign made a decision not to engage in a TV ad war.

Garagiola has steadily picked up the endorsements of liberal base groups, labor and those in the Annapolis establishment. His campaign is betting big that these groups' get-out-the-vote effort will deliver him the Democratic nod.

Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group conducted the polls for Delaney of approximately 400 likely primary voters. The margin of error was 5 points.