Campaign Notebook

October 04, 2006

Another salvo in Cardin-Steele ad war

The biting ad war continued yesterday between Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, and his Democratic rival, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, with each candidate launching new spots in the major media markets.

Cardin debuted two new ads yesterday, a radio commercial featuring Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, and a television spot linking Steele with President Bush.

"On issue after issue, Michael Steele stands with George Bush," Cardin says, citing Steele's opposition to expanding stem cell research and his support of the president's plan to privatize Social Security. "I stand with you."

Steele responded with a television ad - without his trademark sidekick, a black-and-white Boston terrier - in the Baltimore, Washington, Salisbury and Hagerstown markets. This time, the accompanying player is a trash can.

"Smell it? Trash from my opponent. Time to take it out," Steele says. "First, Ben Cardin's team hacks into my credit report, steals my Social Security number."

Steele is referring to a 2005 incident in which two Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffers resigned after their managers learned that they had used the lieutenant governor's Social Security number to obtain his credit report. One pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and agreed to complete 150 hours of community service. The other was not charged.

In the new ad, Steele chides Cardin for claiming he is "in the president's hip pocket."

"Listen to me, Mr. Cardin, I think for myself," he says. "After 40 years in office, Ben Cardin can't change Washington. But you and I can."

In the Cardin radio ad, Ivey, who is black, says the congressman has championed issues important to the African-American community. He notes that Cardin, who is a former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, appointed the first black person to chair a major legislative committee and helped make Maryland "one of the first states to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Jennifer Skalka

Seat Pleasant mayor for Steele

Democratic Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene W. Grant endorsed Republican Michael S. Steele's U.S. Senate bid yesterday during a morning event in the largely black community inside the Washington Beltway.

Since Grant took office in 2004, he has developed a friendly relationship with Steele and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The governor and lieutenant governor presented $75,000 to the mayor from the state's Community Legacy Grant Program, a sum intended for "the acquisition and demolition of vacant properties in the city," according to the Maryland Economic Development Digest. In January 2004, Steele directed $50,000 in state insurance settlement money to Global Developmental Services for Youth Inc., a nonprofit agency run by Grant.

Meanwhile, Steele and Ehrlich visited Seat Pleasant last week for the installation of a new traffic light.

Jennifer Skalka

O'Malley, Ehrlich argue debating

The debate over gubernatorial debates rages on.

Mayor Martin O'Malley's campaign said yesterday that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is refusing to participate in any debates, including one hosted by the NAACP scheduled for Oct. 24.

But Ehrlich responded that it is the mayor who will not agree to a date next week for a televised face-off on WJZ-TV in Baltimore.

The Democratic mayor's campaign said that Ehrlich refuses to agree to any debate after Oct. 13. Five are already scheduled. The Republican incumbent's campaign has said that the governor wants the final weeks before the Nov. 7 election to travel the state. His spokesperson said Ehrlich will debate any time next week on WJZ-TV but that O'Malley refuses.

Doug Donovan

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