O'Malley touts record in campaign's first TV ad
What's become a Friday afternoon tradition this summer in the Maryland governor's race -- a new ad release by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) -- got a little more interesting today.
With just under four months to go before Election Day, O'Malley is making the jump from radio to television with an ad titled "Tough Choices." In the 30-second ad, a narrator describes O'Malley as a sound fiscal steward working for the middle class, as pictures flash across the screen of the governor with students, then at a construction site, and back again to looking pensive, wearing a shirt and tie.
Putting the commercial's claims about O'Malley's fiscal record aside for a moment, the spot represents a shift from the increasingly negative tone of the governor's recent radio ads, in which he characterized former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) as a lobbyist for big oil, Wall Street bankers and other unsavory special interests. That shift was not altogether unexpected. For weeks, O'Malley advisers have signaled that the campaign's television ads -- which they believe most members of the public will grade them on -- would begin by focusing on the governor's record.
In beating Ehrlich to television, the ad also highlights -- again -- the large money advantage with which O'Malley began the race. Ehrlich began fundraising when he entered the race in late March, but is believed to remain millions behind. He has not aired an ad, though purchased ads linking to his campaign Web page have begun appearing online.
In similar fashion to his radio ads, O'Malley's first television commercial takes liberties in describing the fiscal condition he inherited as governor, and the budget actions he proposed to close spending gaps.
The ad claims O'Malley "inherited a $1.7 billion-dollar budget deficit" from former Gov. Ehrlich. It is true that O'Malley confronted a chronic spending imbalance because of unfunded education costs, but when he entered office he also had nearly $1 billion of a tax windfall remaining from the housing boom. He needed most of that in his first year to pay for the scheduled increases in education spending. In his first year, O'Malley and the General Assembly also approved a broad tax package to cover future education costs and other expenses.
UPDATE: The O'Malley campaign says the ad's $1.7-billion figure -- the projected shortfall the governor would have faced in his second year in office had he and the legislature not raised taxes -- represented the real fiscal dilemma O'Malley inherited. For your reading pleasure, here's the report.
O'Malley's ad also claims he cut "$5 billion in waste and government spending."
Over the past four years, O'Malley has, in the parlance of state budget speak, taken $5 billion worth of budget "actions" to balance spending with revenue. But more than $2 billion of those were one-time fund shifts and other maneuvers. And the bulk of his actions were short-term fixes that produced little or no ongoing savings.
The ad will begin airing Monday in Baltimore, according to O'Malley's campaign. The governor has not yet purchased air time in the more expensive Washington market.
The full text of O'Malley's ad:
"He inherited a one point seven billion dollar budget deficit ...
Then an economic crisis.
But Martin O'Malley went to work.
Cutting five billion in waste and government spending
While also making opportunities for middle class families a priority.
Freezing college tuition four years in a row,
Record investments in our schools,
And tax credits for small businesses to create jobs.
While other states are still struggling, Martin O'Malley is making the tough choices ...
To move Maryland forward."
Aaron C. Davis
July 9, 2010; 4:05 PM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis
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