Ehrlich ad makes appeal to parents

Campaign Ad Watch

September 14, 2002|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. began airing his second television advertisement yesterday in the Washington suburbs, stressing his interest in education. But the 30-second spot gives no details of what his education policy would be if he were to become governor.

What the ad says: The ad features what appears to be home video of Ehrlich's son, Drew, 3, running about and playing while Ehrlich and his wife, Kendel, sit at a table and talk about how having Drew was the most important thing they've ever done.

"It certainly changes your emphasis on certain issues," Ehrlich says. "And clearly education is the first thing that comes to mind. Every parent wants to send their kid to a good school. Quality education and giving working-class and poor parents excellent schools is very important to us."

The words "Ehrlich: Fully Fund Every School" appear on the screen as he speaks.

The facts: Ehrlich says he wants to fund the Thornton Commission plan, adopted in April by the General Assembly, which recommends pumping $1.3 billion into public schools within five years. He has said he would pay for the increased spending with revenue from legalized slot machines.

Ehrlich also supports charter schools, and says he would make such legislation a priority if he becomes governor. He also backs giving parents vouchers - money taken from underperforming public school budgets that could be used to pay tuition at private or parochial schools.

In addition, he has not agreed to set aside state money for private school textbooks, as Gov. Parris N. Glendening has done in past budgets.

Analysis: The ad gives few details about what Ehrlich would do for education if he is elected - or about his congressional votes on education.

One reason could be recent polls that show legalizing slot machines is unpopular in Montgomery County, where residents say they would rather pay higher taxes to fund schools. And while Ehrlich says most of the state favors charter schools, such legislation has not been successful in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

Mainly, the ad aims to create a warm portrait of Ehrlich and his family to appeal to the soccer-mom demographic - which contains large numbers of Democrats.

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