Tying Townsend to Glendening

Campaign Ad Watch

October 04, 2002|By Tim Craig

Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign is airing a television ad in the Washington market that attempts to tie his Democratic opponent to Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

The 30-second spot implies that Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Democratic nominee, is partly responsible for the state's crime rate, congested highways and $1.7 billion budget deficit.

What the ad says: The spot begins with a photograph of Townsend and Glendening. "Does the Glendening-Townsend team deserve a third term?" the announcer asks.

"We've got a $1.7 billion deficit," the announcer continues.

A photograph of a jail cell then appears on the screen, "The governor's office of crime control is under federal investigation."

"Maryland ranks first in robberies; third in murder."

A quick image of a congested highway then appears while the announcer says, "We have traffic jams that will make you scream."

Townsend's face then flashes on the screen. "And now they say just give us four more years and we'll fix it.

"Really?" the announcer sarcastically asks as the word "Really?" appears.

The spot then switches to photographs of Ehrlich and his running mate, Michael S. Steele. "Bob Ehrlich, he'll fix the budget mess, keep criminals off the street and build the ICC. Bob Ehrlich, the change we need."

The facts: Budget analysts estimate that Maryland is facing a $1.7 billion deficit over two years.

Ehrlich and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a Democrat, say overspending by Glendening caused the deficit.

But Schaefer, who has endorsed Townsend, said the lieutenant governor does not share in the blame because Glendening kept her out of critical budget decisions.

The ad correctly states that there is a federal investigation into how the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention - an agency overseen by Townsend - distributed grants. Prosecutors are trying to determine if there was political motivation behind who received those grants.

Townsend has said the office did nothing wrong and that she believes her political opponents are fueling the investigation.

The ad also mentions Federal Bureau of Investigation crime statistics for the year 2000 that show Maryland has the nation's highest robbery rate and third highest murder rate.

But the Townsend campaign notes those same statistics show that serious crime in Maryland dropped 23 percent from 1995 to 2000, the last year for which complete FBI statistics are available. Gun-related crime dropped 40 percent during the same period.

Analysis: The ad continues Ehrlich's effort to connect Townsend to Glendening.

A poll sponsored by The Sun this week revealed that only 38 percent of voters approve of the way Glendening is handling his job while 47 percent disapprove.

"Everything Ehrlich can do to tie Townsend to Glendening works to his advantage," said Thomas F. Schaller, a professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

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