Sauerbrey again blasts Glendening's ads CAMPAIGN 1998

October 27, 1998|By JoAnna Daemmrich

In two new television commercials, Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey steps up her attacks on Gov. Parris N. Glendening, pushing the rhetoric to new heights in the final stretch of the close gubernatorial race.

What the ads say: The two 30-second spots, running on Baltimore and Washington television stations, call into question Glendening's character and integrity. Both go for the jugular, then present Sauerbrey in contrast as the honest, upright alternative for governor.

The first ad accuses the Democratic governor of running "the most negative, untruthful campaign in Maryland history." It goes on to remind voters of his pension flap and to assert: "You can't trust Parris Glendening." Finally, the ad promises that Sauerbrey will uphold state laws on abortion and gun control.

The second charges that "Glendening gave millions in tax dollars to companies who then gave money back to Glendening." It says Glendening was "caught as he solicits and accepts campaign money" from companies doing business with the state. The ad concludes that Sauerbrey is "a straight arrow. Deal-making and scheming are alien to her."

The facts: Marylanders have been subjected to a barrage of attack ads in recent weeks, but Sauerbrey has contributed an equal share. Glendening did misstate her position when he said she voted "to deny abortions to poor women even in cases of rape and incest." In fact, her vote was to require that women report the crimes as a condition for state-funded abortion. But the accuracy of some of Sauerbrey's claims have been challenged as well, including her assertion that she has received no campaign money from the National Rifle Association.

Glendening stood to benefit from an early pension plan he helped craft as Prince George's County executive. But when the deal was disclosed shortly after he became governor, Glendening said he would forego the pension benefits, and he has since admitted making a mistake.

During her 16 years as a state lawmaker, Sauerbrey opposed all major gun-control and abortion-rights initiatives. The ad repeats her campaign pledge that she would not attempt to reverse state laws on guns and abortion. But her candidacy has been embraced by the gun lobby, and she has proposed some abortion changes, including banning the controversial "partial-birth" procedure and further restricting government funding for abortions.

The second ad spotlights Sauerbrey's criticisms of the governor's fund-raising and a recent article in The Washington Post that detailed contributions to his campaign from companies that had received state economic development aid.

It is true that Glendening has received thousands in campaign donations from companies doing business with the state. But Glendening alone does not hand out state aid to companies; loans and grants from the so-called "Sunny Day Fund," designed to encourage business development, are approved by a legislative oversight committee. Sauerbrey also has received campaign money from companies holding or seeking state contracts. The practice is legal, and while frowned upon by watchdog groups, it has been commonplace in Maryland politics.

Analysis: Both ads are designed to reinforce voter concerns about Glendening's character, which polls show to be an area where he is vulnerable. She also is trying to rebut Glendening ads slamming her legislative record on gun control and abortion, since the Maryland electorate generally supports the existing laws.

Some of the ads' accusations push the outer limits of fairness, notably the implication that Glendening has been taking campaign kickbacks, said Matthew A. Crenson, a political scientist at the Johns Hopkins University. "It's on the borderline," he said. "She doesn't actually charge criminal activity, but it could easily be interpreted as that."

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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