Cardin up with first on-air ad in Senate race

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, who so far appears to be in a strong position to win a second term this year, began airing his first in a series of television ads today touting his accomplishments in Congress.

The first spot, which will run on broadcast television in Baltimore and on cable in the Washington suburbs, focuses on Cardin's successful effort to guarantee dental benefits for patients covered under the federal Children's Health Insurance program.

The legislation came in response to a 12-year-old Prince George's County boy who died in 2007 after an infection from an abscessed tooth spread to his brain.

"I want to tell you about my friend. His name is Ben," begins the ads narrator, a young girl boarding a school bus. "Ben learned about a homeless boy who had an infected tooth and the boy died. That made Ben really sad."

The video cuts to scene in which Cardin, sitting before a classroom of young African-American students, is demonstrating how to use a toothbrush on a blue doll.

"He wrote a law so every kid can see a dentist," the narrator continues. "He even helps make sure we learn how to brush our teeth. He’s my friend Ben. I hope he’s your friend, too.'

Another ad will focus on the economic impact of Cardin's efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Asked about the scope of the advertising campaign, Cardin spokeswoman Sue Walitsky said the ads represent a "substantial, six-figure" investment that will keep the incumbent on the air from now until the April 3 election.    

"Senator Cardin's communication with voters will continue from now until November, but this is an opportunity in the lead-up to the primary to reach people when they are starting to pay attention to this year's election without the clutter that will come in the fall," she said.

Cardin faces state Sen. C. Anthony Muse of Prince George's County and seven other Democrats in the primary, but he has so far managed to raise more money and secure more high profile endorsements than anyone else in the race.

That includes the support of President Barack Obama, who will visit Prince George's County on Thursday -- just weeks before the primary -- to discuss energy policy.    

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