Schaefer's Woman Problem
It should come as a surprise to no one, but Comptroller William Donald Schaefer has turned off a sizeable percentage of Maryland's women voters. And the long-time pol is now more popular with Republicans than his fellow Democrats, according to the results of a new poll by The Washington Post.
The poll contained just one question about Schaefer, asking 902 registered voters whether they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of the comptroller. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percent. Overall, 50 percent voiced a favorable view of Schaefer, while 34 said they had an unfavorable view.
Among women, 43 percent favor Schaefer, while 41 percent do not. The former governor and Baltimore mayor, who has been a close ally of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., also performs better with Republicans (53 percent have a favorable impression) than Democrats (49 percent).
A campaign aide to Schaefer, 84, said yesterday that he believes the numbers will improve as the comptroller's campaign kicks into gear.
"Recognizing that he's been in public office for a long time, you have to expect you'll get people with a wide variety of opinions," said Laslo Boyd, a senior consultant to Schaefer's reelection campaign. "Obviously he'd like to do well with all groups, but as we get into the campaign, I'm confident those numbers will pick up."
Two Democrats are challenging Schaefer in this year's primary. Del. Peter Franchot (D-Montgomery) called the numbers "ominous" and said he is not surprised that Republicans like Schaefer. Franchot has run on the notion that he is the only "real Democrat" in the race.
Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens (D) said she is encouraged that women may be ready to look elsewhere, since she is the only woman in the race -- and currently the only woman seeking statewide office.
She said she believes Schaefer lost the confidence of some women voters after an incident in February when he ogled a young staff member of the governor during a public meeting, and asked her to "walk again" so he could get another look at her backside.
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