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Tom Perez joins airwaves as Maryland gubernatorial primary race heats up

The former U.S. labor secretary released his first TV ad of the campaign

Tom Perez in June 2019, when he was chair of the Democratic National Committee. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Tom Perez, a Democrat running to be Maryland’s next governor, released his first TV ad of the campaign on Wednesday, becoming the latest candidate in the crowded race to go up on the airwaves.

The 30-second spot uses archival footage of former president Barack Obama praising Perez for his tenure as U.S. labor secretary and recounting some of Perez’s background. Perez is the son of immigrants and a civil rights attorney who, Obama says, rode a trash truck to help pay for college.

“He is tireless; he is wicked smart,” Obama says in the ad. “If you look at his body of work on behalf of working people, he has been extraordinary.”

Perez joins Democrat Wes Moore and Republican Kelly Schulz in entering the more costly phase of the race, putting hundreds of thousands of dollars into broadcast television ads four months ahead of the July 19 primary election.

Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) began running cable ads this month, with more than $500,000 behind a statewide buy, his campaign said.

The Perez campaign said the ad is backed by a six-figure buy and will air on broadcast and cable TV in the D.C., Baltimore and Salisbury markets. Moore, an author and former nonprofit executive, and Schulz, a former Maryland commerce secretary, outraised their competitors in their respective fields, the most recent campaign finance reports show.

So far, 16 people — 11 Democrats, three Republicans, a Libertarian and an unaffiliated candidate — have filed to succeed term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R).