Kirby Delauter and Kathy Afzali

Kirby Delauter and Kathy Afzali

A presumptive Republican candidate for county executive in 2018 was targeted this week in a recorded telephone poll by County Councilman Kirby Delauter.

The poll asked recipients whether they would support Delauter or Delegate Kathy Afzali, R-District 4, in a Republican primary for county executive.

For those who said they would vote for Afzali, the poll went on to ask three loaded questions about her record, before asking again which candidate they would support.

Delauter — who announced his candidacy in May — said the goal of two recent polls was to test voters’ opinions on various issues. Afzali said the calls were a “Hillary Clinton-style push poll” spreading misleading information.

“I will be making my future political plans known in the fall, but in the meantime, I ask for your thoughts and please ignore these corrupt false attacks,” Afzali wrote in a statement emailed to supporters.

But she also pointed to a third-party polling memo that was sent to her in late June showing that she polls better than Delauter against Democratic County Executive Jan Gardner (D).

Delauter said that memo was part of the motivation behind his own polling.

“I didn’t necessarily believe the data, so I ran my own poll,” Delauter said. “It’s quite different.”

Delauter’s campaign provided a three-page write-up of the poll, which reached 592 Republicans earlier this week.

His campaign said the poll shows voters shift from supporting Afzali initially, after the three policy questions:

  • If you knew that Kathy Afzali voted with Democrats to protect groups that have known ties to radical Islamic terrorism, would that change your vote?
  • If you knew that Kathy Afzali voted with Democrats to pass Martin O’Malley’s budget that increased spending by over $1.5 billion, would that change your vote?
  • If you knew that Kathy Afzali has publicly attacked Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, who is leading the fight against illegal immigration and sanctuary policies in Frederick County, would that change your vote?

Cameron Harris, who worked as a legislative aide in Annapolis last year before being fired for his involvement in a fake news website, gave additional details about the poll as a spokesman for Delauter’s campaign.

At the start of the call, 39.48 percent of those polled favored Afzali, compared with 27.45 percent supporting Delauter and 33.07 percent undecided. At the end of the poll, the numbers shifted to 42.86 percent in support of Delauter and 29.70 percent supporting Afzali, with 27.44 percent still undecided.

An earlier poll that focused more simply on favorability showed that Delauter doesn’t have the same level of name recognition as Afzali or Gardner, but his policy positions resonate with his supporters, Harris said. “Among voters who are aware of him, he has high favorables,” Harris said.

Reached by phone, Afzali said she would not comment beyond the written statement she sent to supporters, which touted her conservative Republican record but did not address the underlying claims in the poll’s questions.

“It’s just so ridiculous, I can’t even comment,” Afzali said about the questions.

The first question in Delauter’s poll concerns the 2016 “Homegrown Terrorism Act” from Delegate David E. Vogt III that would have revoked the tax-exempt status of nonprofit organizations “that are directly linked to the spread and support of a radicalized notion of Islam.” The bill failed in committee, where Afzali joined 11 Democrats in voting against the measure.

The second question is related to the General Assembly’s vote on the $36.9 billion fiscal 2014 budget, which was supported by Afzali and half a dozen other Republicans. The third invokes a 2015 spat between Afzali and Jenkins.

Afzali did not go into detail on Wednesday about a June poll that shows her in a competitive race with Gardner, with Delauter trailing by 8 points in a similar matchup, according to a two-page memo from Targeted Creative Communications Inc. That poll reached 850 registered voters from both parties between June 14 and 18.

Afzali would not say who paid for the poll, just that the memo was shared with her by a third party.

Delauter found himself fielding questions Wednesday from some voters who said the poll rubbed them the wrong way.

Tex Lanier said he receives about one polling call per week at his Urbana home, but Wednesday was the first time he’s felt compelled to respond to a candidate afterward.

“It annoyed me. It made me angry. I felt tricked into taking a poll that was not a poll,” Lanier said in a phone interview Wednesday. “My objection is trying to pass a campaign as a poll.”

He shared his concerns with Delauter and Afzali in an email conversation, which was copied to a Frederick News-Post reporter.

“The poll simply brought [out] Ms. Afzali’s record on issues I feel are relevant today. It was not meant to mislead, just give us a clear indication of where voters stand on issues,” Delauter wrote to Lanier. “It does me no good to skew a poll, I simply wanted to find out where the voters [were] on these issues.”

When they’re sent out right before election days, such messages are commonly referred to as “push polls” because they push a narrative or message to voters under the guise of questions, said Mileah Kromer, a political scientist at Goucher College.

In this case, Kromer said the goal appears to be message testing, another common polling strategy candidates use to see what messages boost them or hurt an opponent.

There can be a danger to such polls.

“If it’s too blatantly negative, you can’t tell the message from the noise,” she said.

Another issue is that they exist in a vacuum.

“The real question about these polls is this: with the pushback ... in a regular campaign environment, will they stick?” Kromer said.

The polls also come very early in the 2018 election cycle. The 2018 primary election is on June 26, 2018, and the general election is on Nov. 6, 2018.

Only one candidate has filed official paperwork with the Maryland State Board of Elections: Republican Regina Williams.

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(35) comments

Burgessdr

Losers both. But of course Delauter is a snake.

matts853

Can't wait to never hear his name again.

LeonardKeepers

if i decide to vote neither of these two candidates would get my vote,the republican party is in extreme disarray.it doesn't seem to matter what level of government they are involved with,they just cannot agree on any legislation that is before them,just plain and simple not with the program.i have not seen or read if jan is seeking another term in office,i would hope she is seeking another 4 years.

MrHitshed

Reading this story makes me want to puke. I know plenty of good, decent, honest Republicans. I work with them, talk with them, and depend on their intelligence, fairness and decency.

So how come so many of the ones that run for office are stupid, worthless and nasty? I really don't understand.

Jan Gardner will wipe the floor with either one of these two lightweights.

It will be interesting to see if Regina takes the high road in her campaign.

Jim Hartley

Well said, agree completely. The party, locally (alas) as well as nationally, has gone completely crazy. I also cannot understand.

ogilvieboy

Wow - I didn't realize you could earn a degree in quantitative analytic analysis from the University of Catoctin - Nice Job KD !! [thumbup]

Dwasserba

Just throw acid in my eyes and be done with it

Doritos

with the republican pool what it is
I"ll be voting democrat again

benedictus

It amazes me how bad the Republicans tend to be at the county level, especially when they are in any way related to construction. Delauter is a prime example. Afzali gets my primary vote by default, though I'd likely vote for Gardner in the general.

threecents

Yah, why are there always at least one crazy republican in the county government, while the city Alderman generally seem to get along fine?

melbell75

This is so true! The city seems to hold things together with a great deal more dignity.

mysameoldname

I was called for a similar poll last month mentioning Kirby, Regina Williams and Jan Gardner as well as the Kathy/Kirby poll. -

newspostreader

Kirby is a snake. We've seen it in the past, and we see it now.

Jleftwich

Delauter is trying to gauge how voters feel with loaded polling questions? Sorry - not buying it. If he truly cared about what county residents feel, he would have heeded the overwhelming opposition to things like Monrovia Town Center and Jefferson Technology Park. He would have heard the cry for funding above MOE from not only residents, but from area business leaders and the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce.

I'm curious if he has ever held an open forum (e.g., town hall) with his constituents, much like Jerry Donald has in his district? Not saying that's a necessary requirement for an elected official, but it sure does convey that you are listening.

threecents

Yah, the poll questions are worthless - they ask what if you KNEW Afzali did this or that, but many of those polled might not be confident that Afzali did those things.

AdamUmak

Kirby has never held a town hall, etc. when he was a County Commissioner or when he was on the Council. Besides standard business openings, meetings or events in Emmitsburg, Thurmont, etc. there has been zero town halls, community meetings, etc. in District 5.

Jan is up in D5 quite a bit for firefighters, Walkersville/Emmitsburg/Thurmont events with Mayor John Kinnaird, etc. Bud and Mark Long attended a meeting about Dominion/gas compressor in Myersville a while back.

thirteen

Delauter and Afzali, Now *there's* a race to the bottom. This is the best the GOP can do?

m21701m

At this level... its not about party affiliation. Remember Blane used to be a democrat,

hayduke2

[thumbup][thumbup]

stjohn42

Took the words right out of my mouth.

Titanman123

From what I'm seeing on Facebook, Kirby had a loss in his family. Very sad, but why was he running a political poll during that tough time? Tired of all the negativity.

BstD59

Thankfully there will be another candidate to vote for because neither of these two would ever get my vote. Kathy has accomplished little in her 7 years in office and Kirby has accomplished nothing in his 7 years in office. No, wait, I lie. Kirby did accomplish something during his term in office, he managed to make a fool out of himself on more than one occasion, but my favorite is 'Don't mention my name, FNP!'

FrederickFan

[thumbup]

hayduke2

[thumbup]

stjohn42

[thumbup]

threecents

Kirby made national headlines for one of several public temper tantrums. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/06/kirby-delauter-name-reporters_n_6424252.html

LJF0929

I find it perfect that he hired such a reputable guy to be his spokesperson. If people aren't already feeling like they were hoodwinked into believing all the sewage spewed during our last national election - they should be learning to recognize the signs of shady tactics. Does anyone really believe Kirby was "just trying to find out how people felt?" If that was the case, and he felt voters were smart enough to think for themselves and do their own research, he wouldn't need to play these mind games. If the world was coming to an end and I had to vote for one of these two - this solidifies my vote.

FrederickFan

I wouldn't believe either one of them or their polls. Both would be a disaster for Frederick County .

hayduke2

Kirbie involved with a liar who polls using misleading questions. Shocking. NOT

public-redux

A spokesman who is best known for being untruthful is an ... interesting ... choice.

KellyAlzan

People are tired of negativity, thanks to 45. Keep it up Kirbie, it'll ensure you a loss.

Rockfish

Delauter’s aide who worked as a legislative aide in Annapolis last year before being fired for his involvement in a fake news website.........enough said! Kirby please find a hole & disappear.

hayduke2

Rockfish --- [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

stjohn42

[thumbup]

DickD

Delauter is just playing games. Same as always.

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