Rep. Donna Edwards is getting some last-minute, much-needed help in her Democratic Senate primary campaign in Maryland against Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Women Vote, a super PAC run by the Democratic women’s group Emily’s List, is putting $500,000 behind new ads for Edwards in the final days before Tuesday’s primary. The ads will run in the Baltimore, Salisbury and Washington media markets.
The ad “Strength” is one the group used successfully last fall, focusing on Edwards’s history as a single mother and activist.
“Democrat Donna Edwards knows what it’s like to struggle,” the narrator says. “Divorced and without a place to live. Raising her son alone. Going without health insurance to put food on the table. But Donna persevered. Then she put that strength to work for us. Protecting women from domestic violence. Taking on the NRA. Rejecting Wall Street’s cash. Powerful interests don’t want Democrat Donna Edwards. That’s a powerful reason why we do.”
The group has spent $2.4 million on the race, helping Edwards to tie Van Hollen in polls when she was airing no ads of her own. It has also put $500,000 toward get-out-the-vote efforts supporting Edwards. But it has not bought airtime in the race since March, and this month Van Hollen and super PACs supporting his bid have dominated the airwaves. A Monmouth University poll released Thursday suggests his message is breaking through, showing him leading Edwards by 16 points.
While Edwards raised over $1 million in the first three months of this year, the first time she has reached that milestone, she still lags far behind her opponent in both collecting and spending campaign cash. She started April with $668,000 in the bank, compared with Van Hollen’s $1.7 million. He spent $3.7 million by April; she spent only $843,000.
Edwards has had other super-PAC support, from a group called Working For Us that has aired a controversial spot targeting a compromise Van Hollen made with the National Rifle Association in hopes of passing campaign donor disclosure legislation. However, the group may have done her more harm than good by angering the White House with its campaign, which drew fire for invoking President Obama. Van Hollen’s advertising has tied Edwards to the super PAC.
Van Hollen, meanwhile, has benefited from ads run by the National Realtors Association and a super PAC backed by a Baltimore affiliate of the Service Employees International Union. The two groups have together reported spending $1.5 million supporting Van Hollen.
This latest ad buy gives Edwards and her allies parity on television with Van Hollen and his supporters in the Baltimore and Salisbury media markets — but not in more expensive Washington.