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The campaign of Ross Democrat Dan DeMarco, challenging Republican Jane Orie for her state Senate seat, has put out a poll today that shows some serious vulnerabilities for the incumbent -- though it does nudge voters in that direction.

Orie, far left in the Robin Rombach photo above of the lavishly coiffed Orie clan, is awaiting a Feb. 7 trial on charges that she used state staff and resources to help her sister, Joan Orie Melvin, get elected to the state Supreme Court. The Ories -- sister Janine also has been charged -- claim it's all a political vendetta against them by the Democratic Zappala clan.

In the poll of 401 likely voters in the 40th state Senate district conducted by D.C.-based Thirty-Ninth Street Strategies, Orie is favored 49-38 over DeMarco in an initial screening. But once the pollster "reminded" voters of Orie's criminal case, she trails 45-42. The DeMarco campaign states that this is a sign of her vulnerability -- but to still have a tight race when voters know that you've been hit with criminal charges is remarkable.

The reminder came thusly: Respondents were read a short campaign bio of each candidate and DeMarco mentions in his that one of the reasons for his run was Orie's criminal charges, without getting into specifics.

Other breakdowns from the poll: Orie's favorable/unfavorable is 45-44, though 71 percent of undecided voters view her unfavorably. DeMarco has a 21 percent name recognition in the district. Orie's job rating is 49 percent positive/42 percent negative -- though among undecideds it's 32/57 positive/negative.

The takeaway? The "duh" knowledge that the DeMarco campaign would benefit from doing as much as it can to publicize Orie's legal entanglements.

CORRECTED 5:12 p.m.: Adds method of "reminding" voters about Orie's charges and removes reference to "push poll" -- which this is not.

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