Poll shows Jon S. Cardin leading rivals in four-way race for Maryland attorney general

Maryland Del. Jon S. Cardin has opened a clear lead over three rivals in the Democratic primary race for state attorney general, according to a new Washington Post poll, boosted at least in part by strong name recognition as the nephew of one of the state’s U.S. senators.

The poll shows that state Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) has so far failed to gain widespread support as an attorney general candidate, despite having the backing of the party’s leadership and more money in his campaign treasury than his competitors.

But with the June 24 primary still four months away, and most Democrats in the state not yet focused on even the higher-profile contest to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley, there appears to be significant room for movement in the crowded field.

[Read the poll.]

In addition to Cardin (Baltimore County) and Frosh, the candidates vying for the attorney general nomination in the June 24 Democratic Party primary are Dels. Aisha N. Braveboy (Prince George’s) and C. William Frick (Montgomery).

Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, Cardin has a 10-point edge — 22 percent to 12 percent — over Braveboy, his closest rival. Neither of the other two candidates broke out of the single-digits: Frosh received 5 percent, Frick 4 percent.

The four candidates hope to succeed Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), who is running for governor. No Republicans have announced for the office.

[Read: Brown holds wide lead in governor’s race.]

Cardin, 44, the nephew of U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D), has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2003. He has talked about the importance of reacting quickly to new problems arising from advances in technology, such as fighting cybercrime.

Braveboy, 39, a second-term delegate who chairs Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus, has focused on issues such as the foreclosure crisis, minority hiring by the Maryland State Police and ways to reduce the incarceration rate for nonviolent offenders.

Frosh, a 19-year veteran of the state Senate who chairs its Judicial Proceedings Committee, has highlighted his leadership on high-profile legislation, such as bills to repeal the death penalty and to make Maryland’s gun-control laws among the strictest in the nation. Frosh, 67, has the backing of former governors Harry R. Hughes (D) and Parris N. Glendening (D), as well as former attorneys general Stephen H. Sachs (D) and J. Joseph Curran (D).

Frick, 39, is serving his second term as a delegate and shares Frosh’s legislative district. He casts himself as an underdog fighting against the party establishment, and says he would be an activist attorney general in the style of former New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer. His long-standing areas of interest include tax reform and consumer protection.

David R. Segal, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, said he hasn’t yet made up his mind but wants “someone really concerned about public safety.” He said he thinks the most pressing issues are combating police brutality and using legal tools to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

Senyee Lok, 25, an unemployed lab technician who lives in Baltimore County, said she was leaning toward Cardin because his is a trusted name in Maryland politics.

Cardin leads in most regions of the state and among many demographic groups. He picks up his strongest support from Democrats over the age of 50 (28 percent) and around Baltimore and its suburbs, near his district. He polls weakest in Montgomery County, receiving only 14 percent support.

Braveboy’s strongest backing (19 percent) comes from her home turf in Prince George’s County and among African Americans, where she is tied with Cardin at 18 percent. She does far less well than Cardin among whites.

Jacquelyn Bowins, 75, a retiree who lives in Frederick, said she was undecided, because most of the field was still unknown to her. But she likes what she has seen of Cardin.

“He’s knocked on my door. I’ve gotten cards from his people,” Bowins said.“I didn’t know a thing about” his uncle.

The poll was conducted Feb. 13 to 16 among a random sample of 1,002 residents statewide on conventional and cellular phones. Results among the sample of 469 Democratic and Democratic-leaning independent voters surveyed carry a 5.5 percentage-point margin of sampling error.

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