Poll shows Howard County executive race tightening

By Len Lazarick

A new poll shows a tightening race for Howard County executive with incumbent Democrat Ken Ulman at 49% and Republican challenger Trent Kittleman at 41%, while 10% are undecided.

The telephone survey of 381 likely Howard County voters was conducted two weeks ago by Gonzales Research for other Republican candidates. Democrats were skeptical of the results, particularly because they are based on the premise of a turnout of 46% of Democrats – about 3 points lower than recent elections – and 40% for Republicans – at least 2 points or more higher than usual GOP showing.

“I think I’m being generous to the Democrats,” said pollster Patrick Gonzales, who has polled for both Democratic and Republican candidates, as well as media.

Based on the primary results, Gonzales believes “Republican turnout will exceed” 40%.

The poll’s margin of error is 5%. A link to the full results is at the bottom of this article.

Ulman campaign Colin O’Dea, said the Gonzales poll is “inconsistent with the research that we have done over the last several months. On April 12-13 we polled 405 voters and Ken lead 57% to 27%. Then we polled  400 voters Aug. 30 – Sept. 1 and Ken led 62%-29%.”

Howard County Democratic Party Chairman Michael McPherson said any poll showing Ken Ulman “neck and neck” with Trent Kittleman “isn’t valid. I think somebody is using a little smoke and mirrors to create some uncertainty.”

McPherson said even if turnout is slightly lower than usual, there is still a greater number of registered Democrats, especially in the last two years. “Still there’s an advantage there of Democrats turning out,” he said.

To increase turnout, the state Democratic Party has mailed absentee ballot applications to registered Democrats, and Ulman did a robocall urging voters to fill out the forms and vote absentee.

Kittleman said she was “thrilled” at her 41% showing and “that the incumbent is under 50%.”

“The numbers are just about perfect for what I would desire at this point in the election,” said Kittleman, a lawyer who headed the Maryland Transportation Authority under Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich and was also an executive for Marriott.

The poll was conducted for three Republican candidates: Dennis Schrader for County Council in District 3; Jeff Robinson for delegate in District 13; and Kyle Lorton for Senate against Sen. Jim Robey. Schrader provided the results of the poll for the executive race, but did not disclose the findings for the other races.

One interesting result is that Ulman leads among female voters 51% to 35%. Kittleman, the widow of the late Sen. Robert Kittleman and stepmother of Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman, said that her unusual first name has been an advantage in her career, but now she has to educate voters that she is a woman.

“This year, in my opinion, women candidates have an advantage,” Kittleman said.

To help inform voters, her campaign is distributing over 10,000 copies of a book she wrote for her company GenderStrategy that is designed to help women succeed in the workplace. The special election edition of  “Why Must There Be Dragons?” includes a cover blurb recommending the book from Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who is the Republican nominee for governor of California.

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