Johnny Olszewski Jr. began airing his first TV ad Wednesday in the three-candidate race for the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County executive.
The former state delegate representing Dundalk uses the spot to brand himself “the progressive Democrat,” in contrast with rival Jim Brochin’s tagline of “the real Democrat.”
In addition to Brochin, a state senator from Cockeysville, the other leading candidate is County Councilwoman Vicki Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat.
What the ad says: The ad opens in what appears to be a school library, with two young people discussing their Friday night plans and overdue books.
Olszewski walks up and says to one of the students: “You know what else is overdue, Jackie? Free community college for Baltimore County residents.” A label on the screen identifies Olszewski as a Democratic candidate for Baltimore County executive.
One of the students says he recognizes Olszewski as a former teacher at his sister’s school, to which Olszewski nods and says, “For seven years.”
Other students tell details about Olszewski: that he “fought so hard” for smaller classes and more school funding and is the only candidate who supports free community college, universal pre-kindergarten and raising the minimum wage.
A female narrator closes the ad saying: “Johnny O, the progressive Democrat for Baltimore County executive.”
The facts: Olszewski taught at Patapsco High School in Dundalk for five years, then was a resource teacher who traveled to different schools for two years.
The claim of having “fought so hard” for small class sizes and more school funding is subjective, but those were priority issues for Olszewski when he was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates.
Olszewski is not, however, the only candidate in the race supporting free community college, universal pre-kindergarten and raising the minimum wage.
Almond has praised Baltimore’s County plan to provide tuition-free community college to recent high school graduates who meet certain academic and income requirements. She also supports universal pre-kindergarten and increasing the minimum wage.
Brochin voted for a state bill offering free tuition to some community college students and said he also supports expanding pre-kindergarten and increasing the minimum wage.
Analysis: Olszewski and Brochin have been competing over who is the more progressive candidate. This ad goes all-in by declaring Olszewski “the progressive Democrat running for Baltimore County executive.”
This ad doesn’t mention some of the key issues they’ve been squabbling over, including gun control.
Brochin previously accepted campaign donations from the National Rifle Association, though he voted for Maryland’s assault weapons ban. Olszewski voted against the assault weapons ban but now says he regrets that vote.
Brochin has said Olszewski is trying to claim he’s a progressive by “cherry-picking one or two issues.”
The ad also seeks to burnish Olszewski’s credentials on education by placing him in a school-like setting and mentioning his past work as a teacher. The county’s teachers union has endorsed Almond, who is likely to use that endorsement heavily in her campaign.