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Heading into final weeks, Brown shifts tone

After weeks of brutal attack ads, Democrat Anthony G. Brown has shifted his tone and started airing positive television messages.

In Baltimore, the campaign began broadcasting a spot about Brown's military service and his Bronze Star.

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In the D.C. suburbs, the campaign began airing an ad featuring footage of President Bill Clinton praising Brown at a fundraiser this spring.

Both ads stand in marked contrast to the barrage of attacks the campaign unleashed on Republican Larry Hogan over abortion and gun-control, ads that dominated the Democrat's ad buys for weeks. The onslaught, paired with more than $1 million in negative advertising from the Democratic Governor's Association, led one political tracking group to conclude Maryland's governor's race is among the most negative in the country.

Brown is the race's front-runner in deeply blue, Democratic Maryland. But a recent poll by The Baltimore Sun found his 7-point lead over Hogan is fluid, and quarter of his supporters are willing to change their minds.

The shifting tone can also be seen in Brown's latest attack ad against Hogan. Gone is the ominous music, dramatic voice-over and doomsday tones that characterized Brown's other ads,  one of which featured a military assault-rifle at a playground and in a shopping cart.

Instead, the ad released Wednesday afternoon features two Maryland police officers criticizing Hogan's position on gun-control and arguing it would make their jobs more dangerous.

In the hostile campaign to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley, Hogan has held a press conference to call Brown a liar over the content of the ads. Brown's ad about Hogan's position on abortion, for instance, referenced Hogan's opinions from 30 years ago that the candidate had distanced himself from decades ago.

The new tone may appeal to some of the Democrats on the fence about whether or not to vote for Brown, such as Hilma Swensen of Baltimore County.

Swensen said she was turned off by Brown's advertisements. Though she couldn't bring herself to vote for a Republican, she said she was considering writing in Del. Heather Mizeur's name on Election Day.

"It's ugly mudslinging. I wish that he (Brown) would bring up more about himself and what he can do," Swesen said Wednesday. She said she appreciated Brown aired a spot about his military service.

"I'm not sure if it's too little too late or not," she said. "I haven't made up my mind. I know voting for Heather won't effect anything, but at least I would feel good in my gut about doing it."

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