After criticism from Democrats, the gubernatorial campaign of Maryland Republican nominee Larry Hogan has altered the closing shot of a Web ad that mocks Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) as the “most incompetent man in Maryland.”
The shot in question showed Brown, the Democratic nominee for governor, and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D), striking a muscle-man pose known as “Zaching.”
The picture, taken from Brown’s Facebook page, was meant as a tribute to Zach Lederer, a University of Maryland student and men’s basketball team manager who died in March after a battle with brain cancer. After one of his surgeries, Lederer posed for a photo, flexing his muscles. The photo went viral and inspired celebrities and others around the world to imitate his pose.
After Brown’s campaign and the Maryland Democratic Party complained about the use of the photo on Wednesday, Hogan staffers said they were unaware of its context. The ad — a spoof on the Dos Equis beer commercials featuring “the most interesting man in the world” — blames Brown for the botched rollout of the state’s health insurance exchange, a string of tax increases and a rise in the unemployment rate.
The closing shot in the new version of the ad, which was posted on YouTube on Friday, is relatively innocuous. It shows Brown and Ulman standing next to one another, casually dressed, while supporters hold campaign signs behind them. Ulman is stone-faced, and Brown appears irritated.
In explaining the switch on Saturday, Hogan spokesman Adam Dubitsky said: “The lieutenant governor didn’t dispute any facts in the ad: that he raised taxes 40 times, wasted more than $125 million on the single biggest job entrusted to him, nearly doubled unemployment and has demonstrated no managerial competence. He only took issue with a picture in it, so we changed it for him.”
On Wednesday, Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, said Hogan’s use of the previous photo showed he is “completely out of touch or callous beyond belief.” The Maryland Democratic Party called the ad “despicable.”
In a radio interview Saturday, Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, said the ad had been very well-received and that complaints about the “Zaching” photo were an attempt to “completely change the subject.”
“It got a lot more attention” as a result of the complaints, Hogan said on Baltimore’s WBAL-AM.