UPDATE: The Gazette's C. Benjamin Ford printed comments today from Del. Brian Feldman about a possible primary challenge against Comptroller Peter Franchot (excerpt below):Maryland Juice has two interesting tidbits regarding the Free State's 2014 election cycle, including leaked polling results from Comptroller Peter Franchot's aborted gubernatorial campaign.
GAZETTE: Del. Brian J. Feldman (D-Dist. 16) of Potomac, a tax lawyer and certified public accountant, told The Gazette on Thursday that he is eyeing a possible bid. During the upcoming legislative session, he plans to talk to people from across the state and weigh whether he has enough support to challenge Franchot....
His experience as a tax lawyer and CPA make for an “ideal background” for a comptroller, he said. Feldman said he has disagreed with Franchot on several issues, including finding funds to meet the state’s transportation infrastructure needs. Feldman supports raising additional revenues to pay for transportation projects, while Franchot has opposed it.
JUICE #1: BRIAN FELDMAN FOR COMPTROLLER IN 2014? - First, knowledgeable sources are discussing the possibility that Del. Brian Feldman will challenge Peter Franchot in a Democratic Primary for Comptroller. Feldman, a Democratic lawmaker from Montgomery County, had been known to be interested in the race. Moreover, the field might be more clear for him now that State Senator Jim Rosapepe has decided against challenging the incumbent Comptroller. Our sources also speculate that labor organizations and certain Democratic officials might be willing to aid efforts to unseat Franchot. Could Brian Feldman become the beneficiary of these efforts?
It seems plausible that Peter Franchot could be vulnerable in a Democratic Primary. After all, the state's Primary electorate is quite liberal, but Franchot has sometimes employed inflexible, Tea Party-style rhetoric regarding taxes, spending and revenue in Maryland. On the other hand, Franchot's almost run for Governor has been a strength for his fundraising operation. As I recall, he had at least $1 million in the bank at last check, so any challenger would need to catch up quickly on fundraising. That means that those who wish to make an example of Franchot better be prepared to work hard and employ a strong (well-financed) message.
JUICE #2: FRANCHOT RELEASES INTERNAL POLLS FROM ABORTED GUBERNATORIAL BID - The possibility that challengers are considering a run for Comptroller might explain why the incumbent Peter Franchot decided to release his internal campaign polls. It seems that while he was exploring a run for Governor, Franchot's polls purported to show he was in 2nd place for the race to succeed Governor O'Malley in 2014. More to the point, Franchot's poll results claimed that a rough majority of voters would support him in a re-election bid for Comptroller. Yesterday Tom Coale released these details and more at the HoCo Rising blog (excerpt below):
HOCO RISING: Normington Petts & Associates took the poll from likely Democratic Primary voters in May and December of this year. The number of respondents was not disclosed. These voters had an 85% favorability rating of the President and 70% for Governor O'Malley....QUICK COMMENT ON FRANCHOT'S POLL - Maryland Juice has also obtained a leaked copy of the polling memo and summary results from the survey that HoCo Rising discussed yesterday. See both items below, preceded by my quick caveats. First, Franchot's internal poll results seem pretty convenient for him, given that his own ambitions have created a laundry list of Democrats interested in applying for his job. Now that he is running for re-election, it seems obvious that he would want to dissuade challengers from entering the race.
Although 53% of respondents remain undecided on the current slate of candidates, for those that have made up their mind, voters lean heavily towards Brown. If the race were held today, with all four candidates in the race, the projected results would be:
Leaving the Gubernatorial race, 49% of respondents said that if the election were held today, without knowing the opponent, they would vote to re-elect Peter Franchot to the Comptroller's office, which may respond to some of Franchot's critics saying he has gone too far to the right to do well in a state-wide primary.
But on a very basic level, Franchot's poll results beg the simple question: why did Franchot leave the race if he thought he was in a competitive 2nd place? Also note that Maryland Juice previously published Anthony Brown's internal numbers, and the Lt. Gov's poll results showed Attorney General Doug Gansler in 2nd place (not Franchot). Brown's poll also claimed that with Franchot out of the race, Gansler and Brown would each gobble up equal shares of Franchot's supporters. In any case, readers curious to see more discussion about Franchot's poll should head over to the HoCo Rising blog to read Tom Coale's take on the polling results. In the meantime, check out Franchot's documents below:
Peter Franchot - Dec 10, 2012 Polling Summary for 2014 Maryland Governor