Poll Shows Maryland Seat Within Range for Democrats

Posted May 22, 2008 at 11:49am

As Democrats reassess their chances in once-safe Republican districts after their successes in a series of special elections this spring, one place they may take a closer look at is Maryland’s Eastern Shore-based 1st district.

In that race, Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Frank Kratovil (D) has pulled within single digits of state Sen. Andy Harris (R), according to a month-old Democratic poll obtained by Roll Call today.

The Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group poll of 400 likely voters gave Harris 43 percent of the vote and Kratovil 34 percent, with 23 percent undecided. The poll was conducted April 23-24 and had a 5-point margin of error.

The numbers got even tighter among voters who were familiar with the backgrounds of both candidates.

Kratovil faces an uphill challenge in what has been considered one of the two safely Republican districts in Maryland. Harris has proven himself an effective fundraiser, outraising Kratovil in the first quarter despite having to fight his way through what became a very bitter three-way primary race against moderate Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) and another state Senator.

But Kratovil is looking to paint himself as the ideological heir to Gilchrest’s legacy and has been working to take advantage of the lingering bitterness from the nasty GOP primary. Two former top aides for Gilchrest are already working for Kratovil and, perhaps most importantly, Gilchrest himself has all but said he would not endorse Harris in the general election.

— John McArdle