campaign ad watch

Harris builds on his reputation as candid

September 06, 2007

Kenneth N. Harris Sr., a two-term city councilman, begins today airing his first television commercial of this year's City Council president race. The 30-second spot will air on all four local network affiliates and will run through election day Tuesday. This is the fourth television ad of this year's four-way Democratic primary for City Council president.

What the ad says: The commercial opens with a shot of City Hall and upbeat music. "The Sun says Kenneth N. Harris Sr. `is a City Council member with an independent streak, and he displays an admirable passion and energy,'" a female narrator says, as the ad shows a picture of the council president endorsement editorial published Sunday by The Sun.

Harris is shown walking in front of City Hall, and a photo of Harris with his wife and children is also displayed. The female narrator continues: "Endorsed by the Afro-American newspaper, Harris' experience as an effective councilman will serve well as the next City Council president."

Harris them directly speaks to the voters. "I'm Ken Harris. I can't go in as president of the Baltimore City Council unless you the voter decide you ant a City Council who is independent, unbought, unbossed and always responsive to you, the citizens of Baltimore."

The ad ends with the phrase "Vote: Ken Harris" flashed on the screen.

The facts: There isn't much to fact-check here. The ad broadly speaks to Harris' reputation as an elected official, particularly for being outspoken throughout his time on the City Council. It is true that Harris has frequently been a thorn in the side of the mayor.

The commercial quotes accurately from Sunday's editorial in The Sun. Though the ad is careful not to say that the newspaper endorsed Harris, flashing an image of the editorial on the screen might leave some viewers with that inaccurate impression. The Sun endorsed his opponent, Michael Sarbanes.

Harris was endorsed by the Afro-American newspaper in the Democratic primary.

Analysis: This ad marks the first effort by Harris to introduce himself broadly to Baltimore voters.

Harris has not raised as much money as either of his top two primary opponents, allowing both of them to get a much earlier start on television advertising.

Over the years, Harris has worked hard to build a reputation on the council for being independent and outspoken, and he tries to use this ad to build on that.

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