O'Malley a threat to Townsend, poll shows

Hypothetical race gives mayor edge in Baltimore


Mayor Martin O'Malley could pose a serious threat to Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's undeclared candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor should he decide to run, according to a poll released yesterday.

The Baltimore mayor would garner 40 percent of the vote to Townsend's 47 percent in a hypothetical one-on-one primary matchup, the Gonzales/Arscott poll showed.

Carol Arscott, a partner in the Annapolis polling firm, said the survey shows Townsend could be vulnerable to the right kind of candidate. "There are a significant number of Democratic primary voters who are looking for an alternative and think they may have found one," she said.

Townsend is considered a certain candidate for governor next year, while O'Malley's plans are less clear. "The mayor is focusing on being the best mayor he can for Baltimore City," O'Malley spokesman Tony White said yesterday. "As far as being a gubernatorial candidate, it's not something he's pursuing or looking into at the current time."

The primary election will be held in September 2002.

The poll, which has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points, shows O'Malley beating Townsend by comfortable margins in Baltimore and its suburbs but being crushed by her in the Washington suburbs.

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