Governor goes on the attack with ads Glendening TV spots take aim at Sauerbrey on environment, guns

September 26, 1998|By Laura Lippman | Laura Lippman,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Thomas W. Waldron contributed to this article.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has finally said the "S" word.

In two new television advertisements, Glendening's campaign goes after Republican opponent Ellen R. Sauerbrey and compares their records on two key issues -- gun control and the environment.

The new 30-second spots, released yesterday, are meant to be "comparative," not negative, said Glendening campaign spokesman Peter S. Hamm.

However, Sauerbrey is characterized as "siding with polluters" in one ad and labeled "the NRA pointwoman" in the other.

In an interview yesterday, the governor said: "I am proud of what we have done, and that is her record. If she's proud of her record, let her stand up and say, 'I like assault weapons.' "

The Sauerbrey campaign responded with its own strong rhetoric. "We fully expected Glendening and his political hatchet man, Bob Shrum, to start attacking Ellen as soon as his poll numbers began to fall," spokesman Jim Dornan said in a written statement.

He continued: "While Parris Glendening lets murderers and rapists out of jail to commit yet more crimes, Ellen has proposed a bold plan to make Maryland's streets safe again."

Dornan cited the case of Charles E. Carpenter, a Patuxent Institution inmate who escaped from work-release in 1997. (However, Dornan neglected to mention that in 1995, Glendening attempted to end work-release for prisoners serving life sentences, as Carpenter was. A court order returned such inmates to the program.)

The new ads arrive as Glendening has begun to show an increasing willingness to speak out about Sauerbrey. The governor's earlier message had focused on his recordand his partnership with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Now his ads -- Glendening's voice is never actually heard -- call Sauerbrey "the gun lobby's candidate" and "the worst environmental legislator in Maryland."

Stark contrasts

Put aside the text, and there are still stark contrasts. For example, as the environmental spot moves from Glendening's benign visage to Sauerbrey's frowning one, the sprightly music changes to a darker, more ominous tune, not unlike the theme that heralded Margaret Hamilton's bicycle rides in the "The Wizard of Oz."

The gun-control ad also points out that the National Rifle Association contributed $25,000 of the $300,000 Sauerbrey pTC raised for her court challenge to the 1994 election.

"As the campaign has been saying for a couple of weeks now, Maryland voters are going to have a clear choice in this November's election," Hamm said. "[Sauerbrey] time and again stood with the polluters. This is simple fact."

Glendening also has stepped up his anti-Sauerbrey statements on the stump. "The choice couldn't be clearer," he told four environmental groups who endorsed him Wednesday.

The environmental ad cites three bills from Sauerbrey's 16 years in the House of Delegates, including one she has subsequently said she should have supported, the 1985 phosphates ban. The gun-control ad mentions her repeated votes against proposals to ban assault weapons.

Telling his story

The Glendening campaign also continues to broadcast a more general ad, released earlier this week, that attempts to encapsulate his humble beginnings and his record on several issues in 30 seconds.

Keith Haller, of Potomac Survey Research in Bethesda, said the new ads clearly represent a shift in strategy, but may not address the campaign's basic problem.

"Before attack ads are launched, it's imperative that Glendening's story be told in a compelling way. I think most Marylanders still don't know the real Parris Glendening," he said.

One local political science professor agreed that the ads are comparative, despite the strong anti-Sauerbrey sentiment.

"The pure negative ad just attacks, attacks, attacks," said Herb Smith of Western Maryland College. "This is, 'Here's my record, here's my adversary's record.' Voters don't seem to complain about these nearly as much as the pure, unadulterated attack spots."

And if the Glendening campaign is going to focus on issues, these are probably the right ones to emphasize, Smith said. "Pfiesteria is a slam-dunk for him."

Pub Date: 9/26/98

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