O'Malley rebuts Ehrlich ad

Campaign Ad Watch

Maryland Votes 2006

October 24, 2006|By JOHN FRITZE

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's latest television advertisement attacking Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. rephrases many of his campaign's previous claims under a new theme: that the governor has forgotten his middle-class roots. The 30-second spot is running in the Baltimore and Washington areas.

What the ad says: The advertisement starts with video from a recently released Ehrlich ad, in which the governor stands near his boyhood home in Arbutus. The narrator says, "Bob Ehrlich talks about his middle-class roots, but he's forgotten where he comes from." The video cuts to a shot of Ehrlich and President Bush as the male narrator says the governor has sided with special interests because "he opposed increasing the minimum wage." The voiceover also says Ehrlich increased college tuition by 40 percent and prevented consumers from buying prescription drugs from Canada. "Isn't it time for a governor on our side?" the ad concludes.

The Facts: Ehrlich vetoed a bill in the General Assembly in 2005 that raised the hourly minimum wage by $1 to $6.15, arguing that the increase was the wrong way to alleviate poverty. The Democratically controlled legislature disagreed and overrode his veto in January. The $1 increase took effect in February.

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents sets tuition, not the governor, after analyzing how much state money the system will receive.

However, tuition at the state's universities increased during Ehrlich's tenure, in part, because he cut state funding. Tuition increased more than 30 percent at every campus except Coppin State, and the increases at some schools topped 40 percent. O'Malley arrives at 40 percent based on a weighted average that takes into account the fact that some of the biggest increases occurred at the largest campuses.

Laws that prohibit individuals from buying drugs abroad are federal, and to blame Ehrlich is an oversimplification of a complex issue. In Maryland, the Assembly has failed to approve legislation that would require the state to seek federal permission to bring in drugs from abroad. However, a number of other states are bucking the federal law, and U.S. customs officials said this month they will stop a policy of seizing small quantities of drugs being shipped from Canada.

Analysis: O'Malley's campaign has worked aggressively to tie Ehrlich to Bush - who does not enjoy high approval ratings in Maryland - and also to paint Ehrlich as someone who has lost touch with middle-class "working families." The spot continues that theme by highlighting a number of pocketbook issues the campaign believes will resonate with voters. This advertisement is also in direct response to Ehrlich's feel-good spot from Arbutus, which never mentions O'Malley but rather focuses on values.

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