Schaefer wants ad pulled by Ehrlich

Campaign Notebook

July 08, 2006

State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer is demanding that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign stop using a new television ad that Schaefer says falsely implies he's supporting the Republican governor's re-election.

In a letter dated Thursday and released to The Sun by Schaefer's campaign yesterday, the Democratic comptroller accused the Ehrlich campaign of misrepresenting his position in the governor's race.

"I am the only person quoted in the ad, and it appears at the beginning of the ad. It is reasonable for viewers to assume that I approved the use of my name in the ad because I have endorsed the governor's re-election," Schaefer wrote in the letter to Ehrlich campaign manager Bo Harmon. "In fact, no one sought my permission to use my name in the ad. More important, I have stated that I will not endorse the governor, but rather the Democratic nominee."

The unequivocal letter is a departure from Schaefer's usually harmonious relationship with Ehrlich, who has openly wooed the former governor with praise and baked goods while receiving vital support on the Board of Public Works.

In contrast, Schaefer has had a generally frosty relationship with Mayor Martin O'Malley, the presumptive Democratic nominee since Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan dropped out of the race last month for health reasons. Schaefer's letter does not mention O'Malley by name.

Schaefer is facing a primary challenge from Montgomery County Del. Peter Franchot and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens. Franchot, in particular, has criticized Schaefer's friendly treatment of Ehrlich, styling himself as "the only real Democrat" in the race.

The Ehrlich ad, which began running this week, begins with audio saying "some say he faced the most difficult task of any governor in his lifetime." The on-screen video flashes the message: "Most difficult task of any governor - William Donald Schaefer," citing a Sun article in December 2002. "Governor Ehrlich rose to the challenge," the audio continues.

Schaefer demanded that the ad be pulled and that his name not be used in future ads without his approval.

Shareese DeLeaver, an Ehrlich spokeswoman, declined to say whether the campaign would comply. "The campaign is in receipt of the letter and appreciates and respects the comptroller's thoughts," she said.

The letter marks the second time this week that the Ehrlich campaign has been faced with a demand that it modify an ad to avoid the appearance of an endorsement.

At the request of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the campaign agreed to alter an ad that used the nonprofit group's logo. The foundation said it had no objection to the use of an accurate quote but was concerned that the use of the logo implied an endorsement.

Michael Dresser

Senate race

Steele reports raising $1.8 million in second quarter

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's campaign for U.S. Senate raised $1.8 million in the second quarter, according to a memo issued yesterday by campaign manager Michael Leavitt.

Leavitt says the Republican now has $3 million cash on hand. Steele raised $1.3 million during the year's first quarter.

Leavitt attributes Steele's fundraising take to a grass-roots effort that drew support from 15,000 individual contributors at an average gift of $200. Steele has also benefited from fundraising help from several national GOP figures, including President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara Bush, presidential adviser Karl Rove and Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Steele's leading Democratic opponents - Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and former congressman Kweisi Mfume - have not yet released their second-quarter numbers.

JENNIFER SKALKA

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