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New Poll Shows Sheila Dixon Is Front-Runner To Win Baltimore Mayoral Race

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A new poll is out Sunday and it clearly shows former Mayor Sheila Dixon way out in front. The poll was conducted by the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore and is the first snapshot of what Baltimore voters think.

Mary Bubala has more.

It's a crowded field of 14 Democrats and this is the first time we've seen who voters think should be the next mayor of Baltimore.

In the months since Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced she's leaving office and won't run for another term, many faces have entered the race to replace her. But one standing out is former Mayor Sheila Dixon.

The Baltimore Sun/University of Baltimore poll by Opinion Works shows Sheila Dixon has a wide lead: 24%, almost a two-to-one lead over State Senator Catherine Pugh, who has 13%. They're followed by Councilman Carl Stokes, with 11%. Councilman Nick Mosby has 10% of the vote in the poll, attorney Elizabeth Embry has seven percent and venture capitalist David Warnock is at the bottom with five percent.

But it's former Mayor Dixon who clearly has momentum.

"She's almost twice as high as her next competitor. There is a small group that is bunched right around 10-15%, so there is a second tier who could break through. This race is by no means settled; there are still 26% that are undecided," said Opinion Works President Steve Raabe.

But Raabe says support for Sheila Dixon is firm among likely voters sampled.

In 2009, Dixon was convicted of stealing gift cards intended for the poor and eventually resigned from office. A plea deal wiped her criminal record clean after probation, community service and restitution.

Opinion Works says if candidates drop out and the mayoral field narrows in the coming months, the race could tighten.

"Sheila Dixon is three times as strong among African-American voters compared to white voters and there are people who have concerns about her conviction and the circumstances under which she left office, so in a multi-candidate field, she's strong. If it came down to one to one, especially with someone like Catherine Pugh, who has a strong profile of her own, then it would be a different kind of race," Raabe said.

The primary is April 26. The poll sampling took place between November 13 and 17.

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