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Update on Ben Jealous’ Gubernatorial Race in Maryland

The Republican Governor’s Association spent about $1 million on TV ads last month to characterize Maryland gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous as a “tax-and-spend” candidate; but the Democratic Governors Association has not yet spent anything to attack the incumbent, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

The Republican attack ads have characterized Jealous as a governor who would “blow a Chesapeake Bay sized hole” in the state’s budget and “destroy our economy.” While the governor’s association said the media blitz will continue, and another large ad buy will stretch throughout August, Jealous said the attack-style ads suggest the Republican candidate is desperate.

Jealous told supporters at a recent event in Baltimore, “This is what it looks like when we’re starting to win. We said if Larry Hogan starts running attack ads before Labor Day, it means he’s scared. He started running them before the Fourth of July. That means he’s very scared.”

In the ads, the association calls Jealous “too extreme for Maryland,” and suggests Democrats are already abandoning the Democratic candidate who will face Hogan in November.

“Maryland can’t afford Ben Jealous as governor, and even Democrats know it,” Association spokesman Jon Thompson told The Baltimore Sun in a recent email.

Democrats said they will buy ads but are waiting until later in the campaign. Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association recently released a 1,418-page opposition research report on Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. The report was compiled by Spiros Consulting and recently posted on the website,

First reported by the Daily Record, examines Hogan’s personal, professional and political life. The cover of the report shows a younger Hogan standing next to Newt Gingrich.

While Democratic Governors Association spokeswoman Melissa Miller said, the Republican assault on Jealous indicates Hogan must be scared of his challenger–And Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.

A Baltimore Sun review of recent ad buys shows the RGA has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Baltimore market on WBAL-TV, WBFF, and Verizon cable stations. Current spending totals at least $1 million, partial public records show — and more ads continue to be purchased.


Miller said, “Larry Hogan is one of the nation’s most vulnerable incumbent governors, and he and the RGA know it. Hogan is running scared because he knows that Maryland voters want a governor like Ben Jealous who’ll stand up to Donald Trump and grow an economy that works for Maryland families.

“The DGA views Maryland as a significant target for Democratic pickup this November.”

Donald F. Norris, professor emeritus of public policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, called the RGA ads “very effective.”

“I’m very surprised the Democrats are not countering them,” Norris told The Baltimore Sun. “If they go on for two months, they will cement the narrative that Ben Jealous is a radical tax and spender.”

Norris, added, “We know attack ads work. And we know you can’t let an attack ad go unanswered.”

Martha McKenna, a Democratic strategist who works on political television ads, said she thinks the Republicans are worried about a “blue wave” in November as a backlash over Trump’s presidency.

“The RGA has no choice,” McKenna said. “Since Hogan has failed to stand up to Trump, their only option to get him re-elected is to tear down Ben Jealous.”

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