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Mitchell goes negative again

The Baltimore Sun

City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. began airing yesterday his second negative ad in this year's mayoral campaign, in response to an ad from Mayor Sheila Dixon. The 15-second television ad is Mitchell's fifth and is the eighth overall in the race.

What the ad says: As ominous music plays in the background, large, red letters spell out "DIXON: ATTACKING." A male narrator says, "Sheila Dixon is panicking, attacking Keiffer Mitchell on crime." The screen shows Dixon at a news conference with microphones in front of her. Below her is a smaller image of Dixon's ad, a picture of Mitchell with the text "12 years" and "Keiffer Mitchell talks about crime."

The narrator goes on to say, "But it's Dixon who refuses to hire more police, even as the murder crisis spreads." Again, red letters spell out: "DIXON BUDGET: NO NEW POLICE." The screen is split between Dixon at a news conference and a grainy black-and-white image of a police officer walking on the street, the flashing lights of his car behind him.

The narrators says, "No wonder our police endorse Keiffer Mitchell for mayor." Mitchell is shown alongside a police badge that says "Endorsed by Baltimore Police." The camera pans to him walking on the street with a couple of police officers. Text reads, "Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. Mayor. Changing Baltimore for the Better."

The facts: It is true that Dixon attacked Mitchell on his crime record in an ad her campaign began running Tuesday.

The commercial points to the current budget to back up the statement, "But it's Dixon who refuses to hire more police, even as the murder crisis spreads." While it is technically accurate that there were no new positions added to the Police Department, the statement misrepresents how the budget works. The positions that were cut were vacant. About 140 police positions paid for in the budget are also vacant, so increasing the number of positions in the budget would not address the staffing shortage. Recruitment and retention of officers, not money in the budget, is the most immediate problem with police staffing.

The city has experienced a spike in homicides and is on pace to exceed 300 annually for the first time since the 1990s. Mitchell continues to contend that the killings are "spreading," but there have been no studies on the issue. Mitchell was endorsed by the Baltimore's Fraternal Order of Police.

Analysis: This is Mitchell's second negative ad of the campaign. With less than three weeks to go before the Sept. 11 Democratic primary and Mitchell lagging in the polls and fundraising, he is clearly taking a more aggressive approach.

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