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Rep. Donna Edwards buys airtime, pushes back on constituent services

Rep. Donna Edwards' campaign for Senate is pushing back on criticism from rival Rep. Chris Van Hollen about constituent services in her congressional office, telling the story of a voter who reached out for help in a new web video.

The video tells the story of a federal employee identified as Denise, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and received help from Edwards' office in 2014 to expedite the review of the Social Security disability benefits. "She looked out for me," Denise says in the ad. "She's just like one of us, she understands."

At debates and campaign stops throughout the state, Van Hollen has rarely failed to mention a Washington Post editorial last month that dinged Edwards for "running an office notorious for inattention to constituent services and teamwork." The piece, which went on to endorse Van Hollen in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, did not elaborate or back up that assertion.

The Edwards campaign said in a statement it had purchased $156,000 in broadcast and cable television airtime that it said will begin airing on Tuesday. But the web video the campaign released Monday was nearly two minutes long. The campaign declined to release the actual video that will be broadcast this week, but indicated an ad will run in Baltimore.

FCC public files showed new activty from Edwards' campaign on two Baltimore stations, WJZ and WBAL.  

As recently as late last year it was not clear whether Edwards would have enough money to launch any television advertising, and so the recent purchase -- while small -- is potentially an indication that her campaign's finances have improved. The campaigns will not report their 2016 fundraising to the Federal Election Commission until later this month. Washington-based Emily's List has aired an extensive television campaign on Edwards' behalf.

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