Democrat Ben Jealous on Tuesday became the first candidate running for Maryland governor to broadcast ads on all four major television stations in the Baltimore market, pitching himself as an accomplished activist.
His 60-second spot introduces himself to voters as a community organizer and a national civil rights leader who was the product of an interracial marriage that had been illegal in Maryland not long before he was born.
Jealous' campaign spokeswoman Jerusalem Demsas said the campaign spent "nearly six figures" to go up on Baltimore television this week. They plan to remain on the air in the city until the June 26 primary and will begin airing ads in the Washington TV market within a few weeks.
Jealous, former chief of the NAACP, is the first Democrat in the crowded field to begin a sustained advertising push in the 2018 election. Jealous has drawn support from many progressive groups and the state's teacher's union, and has polled among the top candidates in the race.
In a February survey of likely voters by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies, Jealous was third among eight candidates, behind Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died suddenly last week. About a third of Democratic primary voters were undecided in the race.
Jealous' commercial tells voters his mother, who is black, grew up in West Baltimore's MuCulloh Homes housing project and left the state to marry his father, who is white. They were both teachers.
The ad highlights his role in pushing for the repeal of Maryland's death penalty, for legalizing same-sex marriage and for in-state tuition to young immigrants brought to the country illegally.
State Sen. Richard S. Madeleno was the first candidate to air any television ads, with a 30-second spot that aired on CNN and MSNBC in his home base of Montgomery County.