Executive Crystal Ball
Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) may have three years left in his term, but he is already contemplating his next step-- a possible run for county executive in 2010. And he may have good reason to feel confident.
Ivey began sharing results of a poll conducted by national analyst (and Prince George's County resident) Ron Lester of Lester and Associates with groups of opinion leaders and potential big-money donors last week, said three sources.
The results of the poll, which surveyed 602 county voters, indicated that if the election were held today and Ivey faced a broad field of candidates, he would win handily, the sources said. Ivey is among a large group of county politicos rumored to be contemplating a run, including former delegate and county executive candidate Rushern L. Baker III (D), Sheriff Michael A. Jackson and County Council Chairman Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant).
Ivey confirmed that he commissioned the poll and said he is "carefully considering pursuing the county executive job in 2010" but said he has made no decisions yet about his future. "I'm not making any announcements," he said.
Baker laughed when told of the poll and said he found it "unusual" for a prospective candidate to conduct a survey so early. He recalled noted that polling showed Johnson leading by 30.percentage points a month before the Septemeber 2006 election. Instead, the executive won reelection over Baker by only 5.percentage points.
"It doesn't say anything," said Baker, who said he is leaning toward running. "It's 2007, and no one is running for county executive right now. ..... You don't know what any of the parameters will be. You've got a presidential election coming up, you have a congressional election. You don't know what will happen with the economy, whether crime will continune to go up."
The poll also asked respondents whom they would choose in two head-to-head matchups, one between Ivey and Baker, and one between Ivey and Jackson. The poll indicated that, including those who said they had a definite opinion and those who leaned one way or the other, Ivey would today beat Baker today by 49 percent to 19.percent, and defeat Jackson by an even larger amount, 55 percent to 12 percent. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they believed Ivey was doing an excellent or good job as state's attorney.
Ivey declined to comment on his numbers against other prospective candidates, but said he was pleased about what the poll indicated residents think of the job he's doing as the county's top prosecutor.
"I think it shows we've done a lot of positive work in the state's attorney's office and here in the county," he said. "But I know it's only a snapshot, and we have to keep working hard every day to do the people's business in order to sustain or improve those numbers."
On another question, 54 percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Ivey, while 6 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion. That was the broadest such span of the 15 politicians included in the survey, with the exception of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). Ivey's favorable-unfavorable ratio was better than those of Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and former senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D), as well as former County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D).
Lester, who has previously polled for County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D), said the poll shows Ivey in a strong position, particularly since he has run countywide twice before. But he cautioned that the election is still years away.
"This poll is good for Glenn because it says that voters like the job he's doing as state's attorney, they have confidence in him, and he has a favorable image," he said. "It gives him an advantage, but it's a long campaign, and I expect it to be a very spirited race."
The race has not yet begun, and Ivey's job makes it easy to capture public attention, meaning he starts with high name recognition. On the one hand, some analysts said he should be pleased with the poll results numbers and indicated the early professional poll is a sign of how seriously he is contemplating a run. On the other hand, the poll could be an indication that he is having trouble raising money and looking for a way to woo donors.
Lester noted 38 percent of respondents said they believed that reducing crime was would be the most important issue in the upcoming race, followed by 31 percent who said it was improving education. Forty-eight percent of those polled said they believe things in Prince George's County are going in the right direction, as opposed to 37 percent who said they believe things are on the wrong track. Those numbers indicated county residents are generally more optimistic than people nationally.
On hearing those numbers, Baker said his polls before the last election always showed education as Prince Georgian's top priority of county residents, not crime. "We need to do a better job of reducing crime. Whoever's in charge of reducing crime needs to do something about it," he said.
A dig at Ivey, the county's top prosecutor?
"Those folks whose responsibility that is know who they are," Baker said.
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