xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Edwards goes on attack against Van Hollen in her first ad in U.S. Senate bid

Rep. Donna F. Edwards launched an aggressive attack on her rival in the race for Maryland's open Senate seat on Tuesday, using her first television advertisement to question Rep. Chris Van Hollen's positions on Social Security, gun control and Wall Street reform.

The ad, airing in the Baltimore media market, brought to a wider audience the criticisms Edwards has been leveling against Van Hollen for months as she seeks to draw contrasts with an opponent who has generally supported many of the same policies.

Advertisement

Van Hollen organized a news conference in Baltimore to dispute the points made in the advertisement before the Edwards campaign had formally released it. 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 volleys turned up the temperature on the high-profile race as the candidates to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski entered the final push toward the April 26 primary election. A new poll for The Washington Post and University of Maryland released Tuesday found the race neck-and-neck, solidifying its standing as one of the most closely watched primaries in the country.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Since she first announced her candidacy last year for the rare open seat, Edwards has contended that Van Hollen, a Montgomery County lawmaker and the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, was willing to consider cuts to entitlements as he tried to broker a budget deal. The ad rests on a quote Van Hollen provided to The Wall Street Journal in 2012 in which he said he'd be "willing to consider all of these ideas as part of an overall plan."

"I said 'no' to the Social Security cuts Chris Van Hollen said he'd consider," Edwards, of Prince George's County, says to the camera in the new ad, which will run on broadcast and cable. "I don't take money from Wall Street banks, even though my opponent did."

In the interview with The Wall Street Journal, Van Hollen said he was "open to a conversation" about raising Social Security's retirement age, but then indicated that any changes to the program should not be considered as part of broader deficit reduction. In other interviews at the time, including one with MSNBC, Van Hollen specifically ruled out Social Security cuts included in a 2010 deficit-reduction report that was at the center of the discussions.

Regarding the Wall Street money, neither candidate has received significant sums of cash from the banking industry, and their positions on financial regulation are broadly similar. Both supported the Dodd-Frank regulations in response to financial meltdown that led to the Great Recession, for instance, and both voted against a bill last year that would have modified how those regulations treat some mortgages.

Advertisement

Edwards vowed last year 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 tied directly to banking interests. Both have taken contributions from individuals who work in the financial sector.

Edwards' campaign said earlier in the week that it would spend about $156,000 on the new ad. Some had initially speculated Edwards would not have enough money to run television advertising because she has raised far less than Van Hollen. While it's not a significant ad buy, going on the attack out of the gate means the ad will receive more attention than it might have otherwise.

Edwards and Van Hollen sparred over many of the same issues in their final broadcast debate Tuesday, which took place on the "Larry Young Morning Show" on two Baltimore radio stations.

"She supported my efforts for so many years [but] now that we're in an election, Congresswoman Edwards has been playing politics with Social Security," Van Hollen said.

"I'm glad that Mr. Van Hollen is in the place that he is now," Edwards said, "but he was not in the right place in 2012 when ... he said that, in his words, he was willing to consider a balanced approach of revenues and cuts and those ... included cuts to Social Security and Medicare."

The Post-University of Maryland poll found Edwards had support from 44 percent of likely Maryland voters, compared with 40 percent for Van Hollen — a split that was within the poll's margin of error. The poll found a wide racial disparity among supporters, with Edwards, who is black, leading Van Hollen 3-1 among African-American voters.

A Baltimore Sun-University of Baltimore poll from last month showed Edwards with a lead in the single digits.

twitter.com/jfritze

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement