Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) leads his Republican challenger Craig Wolf by fewer than 10 points in a new poll — an indication that the race, which has focused in part on presidential politics, could be closer than expected.
Frosh, who has touted his lawsuits against the Trump administration, earned the support of 43 percent of likely Maryland voters in poll released Wednesday by Gonzales Research & Media Services, compared with 34 percent for Wolf, who has criticized Frosh as devoting too much time and taxpayer money to the lawsuits.
The poll found that 23 percent of voters were undecided, an unusually large proportion less than one month before the election. When the survey accounted for which way undecided respondents were leaning, Frosh’s margin over Wolf slimmed to six points, 46 percent to 40 percent, with 14 percent saying they were not leaning toward either candidate.
The results contrast sharply with a Goucher poll released in mid-September that showed Frosh leading Wolf by a margin of 58 percent to 26 percent, with a smaller 16 percent supporting neither candidate.
Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, has not elected a Republican attorney general since 1918. Frosh, a former state lawmaker, was elected to Maryland’s top legal post in 2014. He won 56 percent of the vote — nine points more than Democratic gubernatorial nominee Anthony G. Brown, who lost in an upset to Republican Larry Hogan.
The Gonzales poll showed Hogan, who is seeking a second term, 18 points ahead of Democratic challenger Ben Jealous, similar to the 20-point lead Hogan has in a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released Tuesday.
Frosh said Wednesday that he does not track polls closely but is “confident that we will prevail,” noting that the Gonzales poll still shows him with “a substantial lead.”
Wolf, a former prosector who is making his first run for statewide office, said the poll shows “people are starting to wake up to the fact that this is a real campaign. . . . People understand the difference between somebody who is politically motivated and someone who is focused on problems in Maryland.”
Frosh says his office does not act for political reasons, but in “the best interests of our people and our state.” The more than 20 lawsuits filed by his office — usually in conjunction with other states — cover issues including the president’s travel ban and whether President Trump is violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution by continuing to do private business with foreign governments.
On the state level, Frosh’s office has pursued efforts to shut down pill mills, indict gang members and close a nursing home chain that he says was “patient dumping.” He’s also pushed to change Maryland’s cash bail system and address rising prescription drug costs.
Frosh, who built a large network of support during his 28 years as a legislator in the General Assembly, had $1.2 million in the bank in August, compared with Wolf’s $160,000.
The Gonzales poll of 806 registered voters who indicated they are likely to vote in the Nov. 6 general election was conducted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 6 on landline and cellphones. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.