O'Malley Ads Focus on Working Class; For Ehrlich, It's Education

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By John Wagner and Matthew Mosk
Tuesday, July 18, 2006

After nearly a month-long absence, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is returning to the airwaves today with a pair of new television ads designed to portray the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful as a fighter for working-class families.

O'Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese confirmed that the ads, which also include biographical information about the mayor, will rotate on network affiliates in the Baltimore area. No candidate for governor has aired TV ads in the more expensive Washington market.

Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. will roll out his third campaign ad today, this one aimed at promoting his record on education.

This commercial, like his first, never shows the governor. Instead, a series of regular folks -- in this case, all women -- talk about why they approve of Ehrlich's handling of education. One says, for instance, that SAT scores have gone up at her daughter's school. Another talks about Ehrlich's promotion of charter schools.

The ad includes a snippet from a Baltimore Sun headline that says, "Ehrlich's plan . . . Record increase for public education." That story did have those words in the headline but also noted that the funding was mandated by a legislative initiative and that some Democrats believed Ehrlich fell short of meeting that mandate.

Ehrlich said yesterday that the commercial will continue a strategy that will keep him on television until Election Day. He said his campaign expects to launch a spot every 10 days.

Abbruzzese would not comment on whether O'Malley will be on television for the duration of the race.

Hopefuls Talk Health Care

Both major-party candidates for governor put a focus on health care yesterday, with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announcing an initiative to help low-income adults get preventive coverage and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley pledging to address a looming nursing shortage.

Ehrlich stopped at a Baltimore walk-in clinic to announce the program, which comes as a result of a waiver from the federal government. It will ensure coverage for those living at up to 16 percent of the federal poverty limit, which amounts to about 27,000 adults in Maryland, he said.

Ehrlich referred to those who benefit from this plan as the "working poor," a group he said too often falls between the cracks. "This is a good policy helping good people in a rebuilding community," he said, flanked by doctors from the Jai Medical Systems clinic.

At the same time, O'Malley was in Lutherville, spotlighting a projection showing that Maryland could have 13,000 fewer nurses than needed by 2010.

He pledged to expand nursing internship programs in junior high and high schools, enhance scholarship assistance for nursing students and support steps to retain members of the profession.

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