Gov. spends big on ads, while chal­lenger holds off so far

Demo­cratic nom­i­nee has yet to buy TV time in cam­paign for gov­er­nor

The Enterprise - - News - By BROOKS DUBOSE

As ex­pen­sive ads in fa­vor of Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Gov. Larry Ho­gan went out on Mary­land tele­vi­sion chan­nels the first week in September, his Demo­cratic chal­lenger, for­mer NAACP pres­i­dent Ben Jeal­ous, has yet to re­spond with his own TV spots.

Ho­gan has poured more than a mil­lion dol­lars from his sub­stan­tial cam­paign cof­fers into print, ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and on­line ad­ver­tis­ing since June, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign fi­nance doc­u­ments. Some ads — paid for by the Ho­gan cam­paign — have touted the gov­er­nor’s record on the econ­omy and ed­u­ca­tion. Oth­ers — paid for by the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion — have at­tacked Jeal­ous, la­bel­ing him a so­cial­ist.

Jeal­ous had less than $300,000 on hand as of Aug. 21, the most re­cent fil­ing dead­line, while Ho­gan had about $8 mil­lion in the bank, the doc­u­ments show.

The Demo­crat’s cam­paign has spent north of $130,000 on ads since en­ter­ing the Demo­cratic pri­mary race in September 2017, doc­u­ments show, but in the months since win­ning the nom­i­na­tion in June, Jeal­ous hadn’t spent any funds on tele­vi­sion or ra­dio ads by the Aug. 21 fil­ing date, the doc­u­ments show.

The Baltimore Sun re­ported in June that the Jeal­ous cam­paign was plan­ning a six-digit ad buy, but cam­paign doc­u­ments from that month do not show any me­dia pur­chases other than an ad in the Afro-Amer­i­can news­pa­per for $1,500 and $255 in Face­book ads.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Todd Eberly, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land, said Jeal­ous’s lack of re­sponse to Ho­gan’s me­dia blitz is a mat­ter of money.

“If you look at their cash-on-hand num­bers, if [the Jeal­ous cam­paign] had tried to re­spond in any mean­ing­ful way, it would have taken re­ally ev­ery last lit­tle bit of money that they had,” Eberly said. “I think it was just a re­al­iza­tion of the fact that we can’t re­spond to this at this point.”

The Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion has thrown its fi­nan­cial might be­hind Ho­gan with Au­gust at­tack ads of their own, mul­ti­ple news out­lets re­ported.

The Demo­cratic Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion said it would “be mak­ing in­vest­ments in states across the coun­try this fall” but would not share their spe­cific plans for sup­port­ing Jeal­ous, as­so­ci­a­tion press sec­re­tary Melissa Miller said.

“The RGA is forced to spend big to try to de­fend Ho­gan be­cause they know his record is out of whack with the people of Mary­land,” Miller said. “The DGA will con­tinue to work to make him a oneterm won­der.”

Jeal­ous has al­lowed Ho­gan to de­fine him as a can­di­date, Eberly added, some­thing that is dif­fi­cult to re­verse if no re­sponse is made.

“As a chal­lenger to a pop­u­lar in­cum­bent, you never want to have ra­dio si­lence if that can­di­date is defin­ing you to the pub­lic,” he said. “So, no, you don’t want to let the charges go unan­swered. … This is sort of cam­paign ba­sics here: You de­fine your op­po­nent be­fore they have a chance to de­fine them­selves. That’s ex­actly what the Ho­gan cam­paign has done the last two months.”

Jeal­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Jerusalem Dem­sas dis­missed that no­tion. Jeal­ous “doesn’t need to re­spond to ads that are bla­tantly un­true,” she said. “If Larry Ho­gan wants to con­tinue run­ning a neg­a­tive cam­paign, that’s up to him, but the vot­ers of Mary­land are look­ing for some­one who can ac­tu­ally give them a pos­i­tive vi­sion for the fu­ture.”

She con­tin­ued: “Ben’s strat­egy in this cam­paign is to con­tinue to speak to health­care, ed­u­ca­tion and the is­sues that speak to work­ing people. … We’ll have an ad cam­paign in the com­ing weeks that will talk about his mes­sage more clearly, and in the same way as the pri­mary, it will res­onate with the elec­torate that is look­ing for some­one who is ac­tu­ally go­ing to solve their big­gest prob­lems.”

An­other stark spend­ing con­trast: print­ing and mail­ing cam­paign ma­te­ri­als to po­ten­tial vot­ers. Ho­gan had spent more than half a mil­lion dol­lars print­ing cam­paign ma­te­ri­als like yard signs and stick­ers, and mail­ing cam­paign in­for­ma­tion. Jeal­ous had not used any cam­paign cash on mail­ing and less than $10,000 on bumper stick­ers and other cam­paign ma­te­ri­als, cam­paign doc­u­ments show.

How­ever, Jeal­ous has not lagged be­hind on salaries, travel and other fees. Since Jan. 11, the Jeal­ous cam­paign had spent more than $450,000 on salaries for cam­paign staff, travel and other fees as of Aug. 21. Ho­gan — who didn’t have a pri­mary chal­lenger — has spent about $370,000 over the same time pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign fi­nance fil­ings.

Re­cent Mary­land elec­tion re­sults have shown that spend­ing the most money on a cam­paign does not nec­es­sar­ily en­sure vic­tory. In 2014, Ho­gan, a po­lit­i­cal new­comer, de­feated his highly fa­vored Demo­cratic op­po­nent, then-Lt. Gov. An­thony Brown, de­spite be­ing out­spent by a 3-to-1 mar­gin. At that time, Brown main­tained a 14-point ad­van­tage over Ho­gan, polls showed.

A Gon­za­les Re­search and Me­dia Ser­vices poll from Au­gust showed Ho­gan with a 16-point ad­van­tage over Jeal­ous, among likely vot­ers.

“If I was the Jeal­ous cam­paign I would ab­so­lutely be look­ing at what hap­pened four years ago and ba­si­cally be ar­gu­ing, ‘Look, all the money was with An­thony Brown. Ev­ery­one as­sumed An­thony Brown was go­ing to win,’” Eberly said. “The Ho­gan folks were far out­spent, he wasn’t known, and he wound up scor­ing a po­lit­i­cal up­set.”

Ho­gan and Jeal­ous will face Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date Shawn Quinn, a Calvert County res­i­dent, and Green party nom­i­nee Ian Sch­lak­man of Baltimore.

Both Quinn and Sch­lak­man spent markedly less than their Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can op­po­nents dur­ing the re­port­ing pe­riod. Quinn ended Au­gust with a bal­ance of $3,120, spend­ing just $76.92 on field ex­penses and bring­ing in $1,225 of con­tri­bu­tions.

Sch­lak­man spent $2,687, pay­ing cam­paign work­ers $2,010 and spend­ing the rest on cam­paign ma­te­ri­als. He re­ceived $1,851 in direct do­na­tions.

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