National GOP goes after Kratovil
The national Republican Party's House campaign arm is on the air on the Eastern Shore with a new ad that attacks incumbent Frank Kratovil's support for the federal stimulus program.
Republican Andy Harris, a veteran state lawmaker from the suburbs north of Baltimore, is challenging Kratovil, an endangered Democratic freshman, in one of the closest House contests in the country. The Democratic campaign committee was the first to enter the general election fight with TV advertising aimed at district voters.
The 30-second Republican spot, airing in the Salisbury market on broadcast TV and running on cable in the Baltimore market, tries to exploit Kratovil's support for the unpopular stimulus program. It also is designed to undermine his claims to independence, noting that he voted for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker (the ad does not explain, of course, that only Republicans voted against making Pelosi speaker, as is normally the case; votes for speaker routinely follow party lines).
The Republican commercial describes the stimulus as "failed," an assessment at odds with the judgment of many economists. According to an August report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus helped pull the nation out of the deepest recession since the Depression and provided jobs to between 1.4 million and 3.3 million people nationwide.
Kratovil voted against the stimulus the first time it went through the House in 2009, then approved the revised version. He has made public appearances in the district to highlight projects funded by the $814 billion spending measure.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which targeted Kratovil even before he took office, financed new TV ads in 27 districts across the country over the weekend, including Maryland One, which takes in the entire Eastern Shore and portions of Baltimore, Harford and Anne Arundel counties.
An NRCC official said the committee has reserved more than $532,000 in TV ad time in the Maryland district through the Nov. 2 election, which is four weeks from Tuesday. Click here to view the latest ads, including the anti-Kratovil spot.
Kratovil's campaign took issue with the ad's attack on the Democrat's claim to independence. The Republicans used a Washington Post voting analysis that showed Kratovil voting with Pelosi 84 percent of the time (this is a cookie-cutter attack line that Republicans in Washington are using in campaigns across the country, attempting to drag down Democrats by linking them to the unpopular House speaker).
The Kratovil campaign notes that the Post analysis catalogs every vote taken by the House, including on relatively non-controversial topics like renaming post offices. By that yardstick, Kratovil voted with Republican Leader John Boehner 60 percent of the time, the Democrat's campaign said.
Kratovil's campaign prefers to cite the ratings of two respected Washington-based publications. Congressional Quarterly ranked the Eastern Shore congressman as the tenth most independent House member and National Journal placed him right-of-center in terms of ideology in its vote ratings, the Kratovil campaign says.