Gubernatorial ad war revs up

Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has fired more shots in this election's ad war – a contest he's handily winning when it comes to volume. The Washington Post reported this morning that O'Malley tomorrow will begin airing a television ad in the pricey Washington TV market.

The ad, which hasn't been released, touts O'Malley's commitment to education, The Post says. It sounds as if it will be a striking contrast to spots his campaign has recently aired in the Baltimore market, including one out Friday, that attack Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on his credibility.

O'Malley has been using TV ads to communicate with voters for about two months, cutting more than a half-dozen different spots. By contrast, Ehrlich has had his ads up – two now – for just two weeks in the Baltimore market only.

Baltimore TV viewers are treated to far more Maryland political ads than DC area residents, mostly because of the price difference. And in addition to being more expensive, the ads reach non-voters in DC and Virginia, whereas the Baltimore ads stretch far and wide across Maryland voting blocs.

O'Malley's newest ad in the Baltimore market came out Friday.

Similar in tone and production to another recent O'Malley spot, it questions Ehrlich's credibility when it comes to halting taxes and helping working families. That's an issue of utmost importance to voters this year -- and one where the O'Malley camp likely feels vulnerable in part because of a package of taxes he approved after a special legislative session in 2007.

The new ad features "real Marylanders" talking about how Ehrlich raised property tax, increased college tuition and made $2.5 million in the private sector after his term as governor. It concludes with a man saying, "With this tough economy, we really need a governor on our side."

(The Sun examined each governor's tax and spend record earlier this year in this piece by Annie Linskey.)

Ehrlich responded Friday in a press release titled "Got Ideas?"

"Martin O'Malley is out of ideas, out of touch, and out of momentum," Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said in the release. "Like most incumbents heading towards defeat at the polls, he is trying to distract Marylanders from his legacy of massive job losses, record tax increases, and ballooning debt that will be paid by our children."

Team Ehrlich also pointed out that O'Malley's attack ad came out as Ehrlich released a "ten-year plan" -- highlighted in a TV ad -- for improving the state. Camp O'Malley was not impressed with that ad or its companion document.

Posted on Maryland Politics by Julie Bykowicz at 10:05 AM

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