Mayoral hopeful Bell airs TV ads

O'Malley and Stokes campaigns plan to run television ads also

August 19, 1999|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

City Council President Lawrence A. Bell III made the first foray into television advertising by a mayoral candidate yesterday with a commercial on his crime-fighting efforts in the city.

In the 30-second campaign spot, Bell is seen walking and talking with city police officers and residents, mostly on Baltimore streets. Only the voice of Gary McLhinney, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, is heard as he lists Bell's accomplishments in office. The union has endorsed Bell's mayoral bid.

"Lawrence Bell passed the padlock law that allows us to shut down the drug houses," says McLhinney, who is in uniform. "He fought discrimination with the hate crimes law. Got us drug-free zones. He's a straight-up guy. I trust him."

McLhinney appears to have overstated Bell's accomplishments in at least one instance: Passage of the city's padlock law, which targeted homes or businesses where such crimes as illegal drugs and prostitution occurred. The law was passed in 1986, a year before Bell joined the council, but his campaign manager, Marshall Bell, said he helped amend the city ordinance.

Bell supported Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's drug-free zones initiative in 1989 and introduced the hate-crimes legislation in October after the killing of a gay University of Wyoming student.

"I have a record of service for 12 years," Bell said yesterday. "We want to go up on media to remind people of what we've done."

Bell launched the ad campaign, produced by Washington, D.C.,-based Main Street Communications, with broadcasts on five Baltimore television stations. Bell campaign officials said they plan to run the ads every day until the primary Sept. 14, exposing their candidate to the average Baltimore television viewer as much as nine or 10 times a week.

"The average person will have trouble missing it," said David Heller, Main Street Communication's president.

Councilman Martin O'Malley, one of Bell's leading contenders, said he had not seen Bell's ad but plans to broadcast his own television ads within days.

Kelley Ray, spokeswoman for mayoral candidate Carl F. Stokes' campaign, said it has not set a date for broadcasting television ads, but "we will be doing radio, direct mail and television to get out Carl's message."

McLhinney said he is speaking out on behalf of Bell because of his 12 years "supporting public safety and law enforcement You don't endorse to keep it in the closet." Although the Police Department does not endorse candidates, McLhinney's participation along with other uniformed officers was approved by police officials.

Bell's media blitz was made possible with a sizable account that includes $400,000 in the bank. He leads the mayoral field in fund-raising followed by O'Malley, who has $290,000 in the bank, and Stokes, who ranks third with about $87,000 in hand.

Republican David Tufaro is fourth with about $23,000 in the bank. The other 18 candidates all had less than $10,000 to spend as of Aug. 10.

City election board officials said yesterday that the mayoral field now stands at 22 after independent candidate N. Luqman "Wayne" Alfurgan withdrew from the race and independent candidates Roger Lee Loughry Sr. and Terry Thometz failed to get the 2,908 signatures required under the law for a candidate to appear on the ballot for the General Election in November.

Sun staff writer Peter Hermann contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 8/19/99

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