O'Malley ad targets Ehrlich's credibility
Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley today began airing a television advertisement that digs at Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's credibility when he promises no new taxes.
Until now, the likely opponents in the November election have aired positive TV spots, with business leaders touting O'Malley's jobs creation in a tough economy and Ehrlich, against a backdrop of sunny Maryland streets, saying he will fix the budget and help small businesses.
The new O'Malley ad marks a shift in strategy -- directly attacking Ehrlich by name. It began airing this morning in the Baltimore market.
The 30-second ad opens with a woman saying, "Everyone knows a fee is a tax." It cuts to an interview between Ehrlich and MPT's Jeff Salkin. "As you know, there's a big difference between fees and taxes," Ehrlich says. The ad returns to "real Marylanders," O'Malley aides say, who say, "It's a tax," often while smiling knowingly.
O'Malley does not appear in the ad; in fact, there's no reference to him at all (except for the legally required paid-for disclosure at the end). Throughout the ad, lines about Ehrlich's property tax and fee increases appear at the bottom of the screen.
Rick Abbruzzese, O'Malley's campaign spokesman, said the ad targets Ehrlich for his "refusal to take responsibility for his record as governor. ... We think the best predictor or what someone will do in the future is what he has done in the past."
On the campaign trail, Ehrlich has been saying for weeks that he will not raise taxes. At a business event in late August in Gambrills, a reporter asked him if he's raise fees, and he said he wouldn't raise those either because the economy is too weak.
Ehrlich campaign spokesman Henry Fawell predicted the O'Malley camp would regret airing a "an attack ad."
"Martin O'Malley will do anything to change subject from his legacy of massive job losses and record tax increases," Fawell said. "Bob Ehrlich laid out a plan to help small businesses early in his campaign and he has been talking about it ever since. People who are unemployed are not interested in negative attacks and political smokescreens."
Earlier this year, The Sun examined each governor's record of taxing and spending. From that article:
"Both (governors) increased taxes. Ehrlich added $2.9 billion in new revenue over his four years, according to a legislative analysis. Major increases included the flush tax, designed to upgrade water treatment plants that filter sewage destined for the Chesapeake Bay. He increased property taxes by nearly a nickel (though he scaled the hike back later in his term), increased corporate filing fees and a tax on health care plans.
O'Malley raised the sales tax by a penny, increased the corporate income tax and hiked the tobacco tax to pay for expansions to health care. He submitted and then repealed a tax on computer services; substituting it for a tax on those who make more than $1 million a year. His plan was designed to raise about $4.7 billion in revenue over four years, according to a legislative estimate from the time."