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Ad watch: Group backing Jealous seeks to link Hogan to DeVos, Trump

An advertisement for gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous. (Video courtesy of The Maryland Together We Rise PAC)

An outside group is trying to come to the rescue of Democrat Ben Jealous' outgunned media campaign with a TV ad linking Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to the policies of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump.

The 30-second commercial from Maryland Together We Rise is part of what the group says will be a $1 million independent campaign in support of Jealous between now and the November election. The Hogan-DeVos spot, which the group says could be the first of several ads, is running on broadcast and cable stations in the Baltimore market.

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The Hogan campaign contends the group is exaggerating its spending power.

Maryland Together We Rise is a coalition of progressive individuals and groups, including the Service Employees International Union Local 1199, Friends of the Earth and the Maryland State Education Association. Its spending seeks to bolster a sparsely funded Jealous campaign that has only just started running ads to counter a months-long barrage from Hogan and the Republican Governors Association.

What the ad says: The ad opens with a picture of Trump and DeVos, with a voice-over saying they “are already hurting Maryland schools.” It then shifts to a picture of Hogan signing a document as the ad says “Governor Hogan’s cuts are making it even worse.”

Next, we see a picture of Hogan and DeVos together during a visit she made to Maryland. “Now we’re told: DeVos and Governor Hogan have similar views,” a reference to their support of publicly funded vouchers to attend private schools.

The ad at one point uses a clip from WJZ-TV, with reporter Pat Warren saying: “So, unlike some other Trump policies, this one seems to be one that Governor Hogan can get on board with.”

The scene shifts to a classroom with a message that Maryland schools face a $2.9 billion budget gap. “And Governor Hogan just keeps cutting,” the announcer says.

The spot closes with the words “Governor Hogan — shorting students, hurting our future.”

The facts: It is true that both Hogan and DeVos have supported programs that would use public dollars to help students attend private schools — something teachers’ unions oppose. And during his first year, Hogan did make cuts to one education formula, and he proposed caps on mandates for state aid to local school systems — not strictly speaking a cut, but potentially one in the future.

The $2.9 billion education budget gap comes from a consultant’s report that is now under consideration by a commission looking into school funding issues. That commission is expected to make recommendations that will be discussed over the next four-year term. That hasn’t stopped Democrats from blaming Hogan for not having gone beyond the formula during his current term.

Analysis: The ad delivers a simple message that if public education is your issue, Hogan is not your candidate. Some of the ad’s assertions are debatable.

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