Ad watch: Democrat Ben Jealous launches TV ad campaign in run for Maryland governor

Democrat Ben Jealous released his first TV ad of the general election Sunday — beginning what he said will be an advertising campaign that will keep him on voters’ screens through the November election.

What the ad says: The 60-second ad, called “Ready to Lead,” highlights Jealous’ experience as CEO of the national NAACP and, later, as a venture capitalist with the California-based firm Kapor Capital. It also lays out the Democrat’s progressive platform, which includes universal health care, 29 percent raises for teachers and increased funding for public schools.

It’s a positive spot about Jealous that does not mention or criticize his opponent, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

“As President of the NAACP, Jealous turned around the then struggling organization, nearly doubling its revenue and multiplying its donor base tenfold,” the Jealous campaign said in a statement. “At Kapor, Jealous has helped to grow over 20 companies, creating more than 1000 jobs.”

The facts: Much of the ad is biographical and accurately describes Jealous’ background, work at the NAACP and his progressive platform for governor.

Perhaps the claim most in need of fact-checking is that, while at Kapor, Jealous “helped create 1,000 jobs” by investing in small, socially conscious firms.

It’s true that Jealous worked on investments with more than 20 companies that employ more than 1,000 people. But those firms existed prior to Kapor’s funding. While Kapor’s and other investors’ financial support certainly helped these firms grow — in some cases allowing them to create dozens of jobs — claiming credit for the companies’ total number of employees is likely an overstatement.

Analysis: Outgunned financially by Hogan and trailing in the polls, Jealous has some catching up to do.

But Jealous campaign officials say that presents an opportunity. Many voters are still unfamiliar with the Democrat, they argue, and they can introduce them to him and his plans for the state with the largely biographical ad.

The ad’s minute-long length allows the campaign to cover more ground with that introduction, but it also will be twice as expensive to run than a 30-second spot. Political theorists often say a voter needs to see an ad multiple times — perhaps as many as 10 — for it to leave a big enough impression to persuade.

Jealous campaign officials said they purchased $109,000 in ad time on Baltimore stations for this week and planned to re-up for a second week.

“We intend to be running ads for the duration of the campaign,” said Jealous campaign spokeswoman Jerusalem Demsas.

The ad is Jealous’ first of the general election. Hogan has already spent more than $2 million on ads since the June primary, including several focused on education. Hogan has also benefited from more than $2.2 million in negative ads the Republican Governors Association has run attacking Jealous.

In their last campaign finance reports in August, Hogan and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, had more than $9.4 million, while Jealous and his running mate, Susan Turnbull, had less than $400,000.

Hogan campaign spokesman Doug Mayer said, based on Jealous’ ad buy, the incumbent governor will be running ads at triple the rate of the Democrat.

Nevertheless, Jealous’ ad will likely leave viewers with a more positive impression that will help counter the RGA’s negative blitz — if his campaign can raise enough money to keep it on the air.

luke.broadwater@baltsun.com

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