A poll of 400 Prince George's County voters done just before Glady's Spellman's congressional seat was declared vacant 10 days ago showed that Spellman's 71-year-old husband Reuben had the most support among a wide field of candidates who at that time had expressed interest in running for Congress.
The telephone poll, which was done for one of the Democratic contenders in the upcoming special election for Spellman's seat found that when the 400 regular Democratic primary votes were given a list of seven prominent Democrats, 22 percent said they would "most probably tend to lsupport" Reuben Spellman in an imminent congressional election. Several of those surveyed, however, said they had reservations about Spellman because of his age, 71, and lack of experience.
Spellman was followed by State Sen. Edward T. Conroy, who received 18 percent, former county council member Francis Fracois, who received 13 percent, former Maryland Senate President Steny Hoyer, with 10 percent and former county Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., who pulled in 9 percent of the voters surveyed.
County Council member Sue Mills received 6 percent support in the poll and Council Chairman Parris Glendening received 2 percent. Nearly 21 percent of those surveyed by the New Jersey-based Public Opinion Research on behalf of Montgomery Del. Stewart Bainum said they were undecided when confronted with the list of seven potential candidates.
Bainum, who commissioned the poll to determine whether the freshman delegate should enter the race for Spellman's seat, said that the poll's results were somewhat skewed by poor timing.
About two-thirds of the survey was done just before U.S. House of Represenatives Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill announced he would be vacating Spellman's seat, with the remainder of the poll performed after Reuben Spellman and Conroy -- but none of the other five other candidate mentioned in the poll -- had already declared for the congressional seat. As a result, Spellman and Conroy are likely to have inaccurately high ratings in the poll, Bainum staff members said. Since the poll was done, Mills and Hoyer have also declared for the seat.
The poll also asked the 400 voters, who were selected on the basis of their regular participation in Democratic primaries, whether they recognized the names of 16 prominent Democrats. Gladys Spellman ranked highest with 98 percent by name recognition, followed by Kelly, with 88 percent, Sue Mills with 73 percent and Reuben Spellman and Hoyer with 68 and 67 percent repsectively. Conroy was not included in the list.