The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

John King airs first TV ads in competitive Maryland governor’s race

Democratic contest shifts into higher gear with the end of the legislative session

Former U.S. education secretary John B. King Jr. in 2016. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Former U.S. education secretary John B. King Jr. became the latest candidate to hit the airwaves selling his personal story to voters on Wednesday, as the highly competitive governor’s race shifts into a new gear.

Two television spots, backed by what the campaign said was a six-figure ad buy, emphasize King’s ties to education and the fact his family was enslaved at a Maryland farm just three generations ago.

They also highlight his biography as a child orphaned at 12 who went on to become a teacher, a principal and later an education secretary during former president Obama’s second term.

The ads will air statewide on cable and broadcast and come as political attention shifts from the just-adjourned General Assembly session to the crowded race to succeed term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

King is the fifth candidate to hit the costly phase of running television ads ahead of this summer’s primary contest.

He joins former Maryland labor secretary Kelly Schultz, a Republican, and Democrats Tom Perez, former U.S. labor secretary; Wes Moore, author and former nonprofit chief; and Comptroller Peter Franchot on the airwaves.

So far, 16 people — 11 Democrats, three Republicans, a Libertarian and an unaffiliated candidate — have filed to run for office.