Baltimore state Del. Brooke E. Lierman has an edge over Bowie Mayor Timothy J. Adams in the Democratic primary race to be Maryland’s next comptroller, a new poll of likely voters for Baltimore Sun Media and the University of Baltimore shows.
However, more than half of those polled remained undecided in the race to succeed Democrat Peter Franchot, who is giving up the job he’s held for four consecutive terms in a bid to become governor. The primary is July 19.
The survey of 562 Democratic voters was conducted by phone and online between May 27 and June 2. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
The comptroller oversees state income tax collection; imposes state taxes on gasoline, alcohol and tobacco, and has a seat on the powerful, three-person Maryland Board of Public Works, which approves major state contracts.
As with Maryland’s governor and attorney general, the comptroller is elected statewide. Should Lierman beat Adams in the primary and Republican Harford County Executive Barry Glassman in the general election, she could become the first woman to win a popularly and independently elected, state-level office in Maryland history. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was elected as part of a Democratic ticket with gubernatorial candidate Parris Glendening.
Amy Markowich, 54, of Leonardtown in Southern Maryland, said she plans to vote for Lierman because she wants to see a fellow woman bring “estrogen to the office.”
“I haven’t seen much about her campaign beyond her pictures … so it really was just going for a diversity change,” Markowich said.
Lierman, a disability and civil rights attorney, has represented since 2015 a state House district that includes areas in South Baltimore, downtown and the Inner Harbor.
Frederick resident Thomas Jackson, 29, said he believes Lierman has a “wealth of experience” and “the background needed to do the job successfully,” based on her time as a legislator.
Adams’ political career began when he was sworn in as the first Black mayor of Bowie in 2019. He is the president and CEO of Systems Application & Technologies, a technical support company he founded in 1989. Should he advance to the general election and ultimately come out on top, he would be the state’s first Black comptroller and the first Black person chosen directly by voters statewide for an independently elected office in Maryland history. Maryland has had three Black lieutenant governors, including current Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.
Baltimore resident Stacey Scott, 50, said Adams has her vote because she has had enough of promises from Democrats — especially regarding Maryland’s largest city.
“I’m not really interested in people talking about” how they plan to support the city, “because they say they do, but they don’t,” Scott said. “Things just get worse.”
Steve Raabe is president of OpinionWorks, an Annapolis-based firm that conducted the poll for Baltimore Sun Media and the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs and Schaefer Center for Public Policy.
He said Lierman has made herself very visible this election cycle and likely has name recognition based on her work in the General Assembly over the past seven years.
Raabe said that Maryland comptrollers tend to be reelected once they win office and build further name recognition. Unlike the governor, who can only serve two, four-year terms, there’s no term limit on the office. Democrat Louis L. Goldstein held the post for 39 years until he died in 1998. After Democrat Robert Swann finished Goldstein’s term by appointment, former Democratic Gov. William Donald Schaefer was elected to two terms as comptroller before losing to Franchot in the 2006 Democratic primary.
While Lierman held the lead in the poll, 52% of Democrats likely to vote in the primary remained undecided. Many Democratic eyes are glued to the 10-way gubernatorial primary, which has received more attention.
“Comptroller is not an office that everyone understands … and neither of these two candidates have a very high-profile statewide,” Raabe said. “So that combines, I’m sure, to make people uncertain how they feel about the race.”
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Glassman is unopposed for the GOP nomination. He, Adams and Lierman are the only candidates seeking the office this year.
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