Immigration issue added

Campaign Ad Watch

November 02, 2006|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,SUN REPORTER

With just days to go in the election and campaign money to spare, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. launched yesterday another ad critical of his Democratic opponent, Mayor Martin O'Malley. The ad is a catch-all of nearly all the issues the governor has hammered the mayor on over the course of the campaign, plus a new one.

What it says: The ad begins with a female narrator asking whether the viewer supports giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants or giving them lower in-state tuition at Maryland universities.

"Martin O'Malley does," the narrator says.

The narrator says that as mayor, O'Malley increased taxes "on everything from cell phones to churches." His spending plans, the narrator says, "would bring us back to the days of Parris Glendening."

The ad then repeats a quote from Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan saying that O'Malley "put education last as opposed to putting it first."

"And Baltimore is still America's deadliest city," the narrator says.

"With Maryland moving forward, why turn back?" she says.

The facts: The Ehrlich campaign gets its information about O'Malley's stands on driver's licenses and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants from a voter guide prepared by the Gazette newspapers. Here's what O'Malley says:

"According to an opinion by the Office of the Attorney General, Maryland is obligated to give all immigrants driver's licenses, regardless of their ability to document their legal residence. As governor, I promise to follow and enforce the laws of our state."

And:

"I oppose illegal immigration. However, we should not create a permanent underclass that will draw on our social services in other ways. Accordingly, I support efforts to help the children of undocumented workers get their education, if they pay state taxes and maintain residence within the state."

O'Malley did endorse extending the city's telephone tax to cell phones and eliminating an exemption that nonprofits - including churches - had to the city's energy tax. O'Malley said the moves were necessary to diversify the city's tax base and lower its dependence on property taxes. O'Malley has also increased the city income tax but has cut the property tax rate.

O'Malley has proposed a number of new state spending programs but has not said how to pay for them if elected governor. Ehrlich compares the mayor to former Governor Glendening, who was criticized as spending too freely, but Ehrlich has increased state spending more than Glendening did in either of his terms.

Duncan made his criticisms of O'Malley's education record during the Democratic primary. Last week, he asked Ehrlich to stop using his name or quotations in ads. Duncan has endorsed O'Malley and appeared at a rally with him last weekend.

And a new survey out last week, based on FBI crime data, ranks Baltimore as the 12th-most violent city in America, down from its rank of sixth last year. The study found that St. Louis is the nation's most violent city.

Analysis: Illegal immigration is a new issue in the race, but all the other criticisms in this ad are familiar to those who have been watching the race.

The ad was released the same day as a positive ad highlighting the governor's record and a few days after others promoting his endorsement by The Washington Post.

Finance reports show that the governor has more than $2 million to spend in the final days of the campaign, and it looks like a lot of it will be going into TV, to boost himself up and to bring O'Malley down.

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