In her first television advertisement in the race for Maryland's open Senate seat, Rep. Donna F. Edwards goes after rival Rep. Chris Van Hollen for what she says is his willingness to compromise on Social Security cuts and take money from Wall Street interests.
The 30-second spot, which is running this week in the battleground Baltimore media market, repeats themes the Prince George's County Democrat has been sounding for months in the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski -- specifically arguing that Van Hollen is an establishment Washington figure and that she represents an outside voice.
"I said 'no' to the Social Security cuts Chris Van Hollen said he'd consider," Edwards says directly to the camera in the new ad. "I don't take money from Wall Street banks, even though my opponent did."
Van Hollen organized a press conference in Baltimore to push back on the allegations before the Edwards campaign had formally released the advertisement. Van Hollen repeatedly called the spot "desperate" and said that it came at a time when "clearly the other campaign is worried, and decided to mislead Maryland voters."
The Edwards campaign said Monday it would spent about $156,000 on the new ad on broadcast and cable television.
Edwards is relying on a quote Van Hollen gave to the Wall Street Journal in 2012 in which he said he would be "willing to consider" entitlement cuts as part of a broader budget deal that included tax increases. Van Hollen, a Montgomery County lawmaker and the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said in other interviews that he would not accept cuts to Social Security laid out in the 2010 deficit reduction plan known as Simpson-Bowles.
Neither candidate has received significant sums of campaign cash from the banking industry, and their positions on financial regulation are broadly similar. Both supported the Dodd-Frank regulations, for instance, and both voted against a bill in April that would modify how those regulations treat some mortgages.
Edwards vowed in April not to take money from "Wall Street banks" in her campaign for Senate. Van Hollen did not respond to that pledge publicly, but neither campaign has taken from political action committees associated with Wall Street. Both have taken individual contributions from those with ties to the financial sector.
The primary is April 26.