In the race for Howard County executive, one campaign is taking its message to the airwaves — a bit earlier than expected.
State Sen. Allan Kittleman, the Republican county executive candidate, launched a television advertising campaign targeted at Democrats and independent voters on July 22.
The two ads, both 30 seconds long, show Democrats and independents pledging their support for Kittleman.
The first ad, which has since been posted on Kittleman's website, features three Democrats and one independent.
"I'm a proud, lifetime Democrat but this fall I'll be voting for Allan Kittleman," one man proclaims.
A second ad, which will start airing next week, gets into the reasons why: a "demonstrated ability to work with both parties" and an air of trustworthiness, say his supporters.
Demographic data would suggest that in order to have a shot at victory, Kittleman, who faces a 1.66 to 1 ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans in the county as of May 2014, needs to win over voters from both groups.
As of May, there were 43,623 unaffiliated voters in the county, compared with 94,617 registered Democrats and 56,695 registered Republicans.
"These ads make it clear that Howard County voters, regardless of party affiliation, can, and will support this campaign," Kittleman said in a statement about the TV ads. "An election is about the values and vision of the person running, not a party affiliation."
The state senator, who served as minority leader for Republicans in Annapolis before resigning his post to side with same-sex marriage supporters in 2011, has emphasized his socially moderate votes on same-sex marriage and the death penalty repeal throughout his campaign in a bid to convince voters that he is willing to work across the aisle as county executive.
The ads make no mention of Kittleman's party affiliation, opting instead to run a photo of the senator and his candidate tagline – "Proven Independent Leader" – layered with a woman's voiceover telling viewers "he's the way a politician is supposed to be."
According to Kittleman's press secretary, Andy Barth, the TV spots will run on about a dozen channels in Howard County.
Kittleman said the campaign bought six weeks of ads, with about 150 plays a week. He said the campaign paid about $48,000 for the airtime.
The ads come sooner in the race than some political strategists had predicted after the primary election in June. At the time, many guessed that because of the high cost of TV advertising, neither campaign would run ads until the fall.
Kittleman, who reported about $320,000 in campaign funds in a June finance filing, said he decided to get a jumpstart on TV because "I think people now are starting to be aware" of the election.
County Council member Courtney Watson, Kittleman's Democratic opponent, reported nearly $755,000 in campaign funds in June. She has not yet run ads on TV.