Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan took the unusual step Saturday of demanding that television stations take down a campaign ad produced by his Democratic opponent, calling the 30-second spot “a desperate attempt to slander me.”
The ad from Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown’s campaign, which debuted Friday in the Baltimore market, suggests several of Hogan’s positions would “take Maryland families backwards.” Of particular concern, Hogan said, is a claim that he “supported massive college tuition increases.”
During the four-year tenure of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., the state’s last Republican governor, tuition at some of Maryland’s public universities, including its flagship campus in College Park, rose by more than 40 percent. Hogan served as appointments secretary during the Ehrlich administration, a position that involved steering thousands of people into state jobs.
Hogan said his job had nothing to do with setting tuition rates and called the Brown ad “patently and demonstrably false.”
“Therefore, we demand that your station stop airing this advertisement immediately to protect your viewership, the integrity of your station and to fulfill your responsibility to operate in the public interest,” Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, wrote in a letter to the stations airing the ad.
Election law gives candidates great leeway in the content of their ads, and there was no immediate response from the stations Saturday night.
Brown campaign manager Justin Schall said his campaign stands behind the ad.
“The only one being dishonest is Larry Hogan,” Schall said. “I understand why Hogan wants to hide his extreme conservative agenda, but he has a 40-year record as a Republican political operative opposing universal pre-K, opposing the minimum wage and supporting tuition hikes.”
In Maryland, tuition rates are set by university regents, who are appointed by the governor. Typically, the university system and governor work together as the governor crafts a state budget that reflects the expected tuition increases for the coming academic year.
During 2006, Ehrlich’s final year in office, the Democrat-led legislature approved a measure pushed by the party’s Democratic nominee, then-Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, to adjust the state budget so that in-state tuition rates would remain frozen in the coming year.
As governor, O’Malley included a tuition freeze in his budget the following three years. Since then, tuition has risen about 3 percent a year.