Rep. Chris Van Hollen is subtly taking on his opponent for Senate in a new television ad that began running in Baltimore on Monday -- offering a tweaked message intended to draw a contrast with Rep. Donna Edwards.
"It's important to know when to fight, and when to find common ground," Van Hollen, a Montgomery County Democrat, says in the ad. "I'm Chris Van Hollen, and I know the difference."
The 30-second ad never mentions Edwards' name, but the implication is that Edwards' outsider, no-holds-barred liberal approach would make it harder for her to govern.
Van Hollen and Edwards, of Prince George's County, are running for the Senate seat that will be left open in 2017 by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's retirement. Van Hollen has a significant cash advantage -- he has more than $4 million in the bank compared with $369,000 for Edwards -- but is trailing Edwards in multiple polls.
Edwards, frequently ranked as among the most liberal in Congress, has criticized Van Hollen for comments he made that were supportive of a bipartisan panel's deficit reduction recommendations in 2010 that included cuts to Social Security. Van Hollen never endorsed specific proposals, calling the overall document a possible "framework" for a broader budget deal that never materialized.
Van Hollen, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, has used a steady stream of advertisements in Baltimore to try to inoculate himself from Edwards' criticism. The ad released Monday specifically notes Van Hollen's effort "to stop Republican cuts to Social Security, and end their special deals for Wall Street."
"But I've not been afraid to work on a bipartisan basis," Van Hollen continues. "It's time to get more things done."
The ad Monday is Van Hollen’s third. All have run only in the less pricey Baltimore market.
Van Hollen's campaign declined to disclose the scope of its buy, other than to say the spot is running on cable and broadcast television.
A review of Federal Communication Commission filings showed no new contracts for Van Hollen on WBAL or WJZ. A new contract is posted for WMAR, showing a roughly $6,000 buy, one-week buy, and another on WBFF showed the campaign spent about $13,000 through Nov. 15.
"Congressman Van Hollen is once again attempting to rebrand his record of backing budget proposals that cut Social Security," Edwards spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said in a statement. "In Donna, Marylanders can count on a progressive fighter who will expand Social Security, combat income inequality, and take on the National Rifle Association when they try to secretly buy off politicians."