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Ad watch: In Baltimore County, Olszewski promises 'practical solutions, not partisan politics'

This is a Johnny Olszewski, Jr. (Johnny O) advertisement as he runs for Baltimore County Executive. (Friends of John Olszewski, Jr. video)

Democrat Johnny Olszewski Jr. has joined Republican Al Redmer Jr. in airing television ads in their race for Baltimore County executive.

Olszewski’s first ad comes a week after Redmer went on the air, and is a 30-second biographical spot that began airing Wednesday morning.

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What the TV ad says:

The ad runs through visuals of Olszewski standing by the water, talking with people outside a school, strolling down the street with his wife and daughter, walking through a factory or repair shop, and touring the kitchen of Costas Inn, a popular Dundalk crab house.

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Olszewski narrates the ad: “My life has been a Baltimore County story. I grew up by the steel mill, taught in our public schools and served in the House of Delegates.

Republican Al Redmer Jr. is the first on the air with television ads in the Baltimore County executive’s race, with an ad that paints his Democratic opponent, Johnny Olszewski Jr. as a “big spending taxer.”

“I know the challenges we face, but I also know our potential. Reaching that potential means focusing on practical solutions, not partisan politics. As county executive, I’ll work across the aisle to strengthen our schools, create more jobs and keep our communities safe while keeping our taxes low.”

Olszewski delivers his finishing line as the camera shows him gazing out over the water. “When we work together, there’s no stopping what we can do,” he says.

At one point, there’s text quoting The Baltimore Sun that says: “Johnny O: A new generation of leadership.” The ad also uses imagery of a red apple with the words “teacher recommended.”

The facts:

The quote from The Sun comes from the editorial board’s endorsement of Olszewski in the Democratic primary, where the board wrote that Olszewski, “represents a new generation of leadership and the hope of a brighter future for Baltimore County.”

The newspaper’s editorial board, which is separate from the news staff, has not yet made an endorsement for the general election.

Olszewski was endorsed by the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, entitling him to use the red apple and “teacher recommended” label. (Redmer has been endorsed by the county’s Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees, which represents school principals and administrators.)

Olszewski’s biographical summary is factual. He was raised in Dundalk, not far from the now-shuttered Sparrows Point steel mill. He taught in county public schools for seven years and served in the House of Delegates from 2006 until 2015.

The rest of the ad is a series of campaign promises on bipartisanship, schools, public safety and low taxes — all of which are featured on his campaign website and in his campaign appearances.

Analysis:

Olszewski’s opponent, Redmer, chose to hit hard with his first ad, calling Olszewski a “big spending taxer” and tying him to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, whose campaign has struggled.

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Baltimore County’s Democratic Party is calling on Republican county executive candidate Al Redmer Jr. to release his time cards from his job as the state’s insurance commissioner.

Olszewski takes a different tack, staying positive and not referencing his opponent at all, focusing solely on his own candidacy.

The ad also represents a shift in strategy for Olszewski from the three-candidate Democratic primary when he branded himself then as “the progressive Democrat.”

This time around, he avoids party labels entirely and promises to “work across the aisle” — likely a strategy to win over conservative-leaning Democrats and independents who might be reluctant to support a liberal Democrat.

Olszewski’s policy proposals do skew progressive, though: increasing the state’s minimum wage, expanding free prekindergarten and community college and fighting housing discrimination.

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