Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous is demanding that television stations in the Baltimore media market take down an advertisement by the Republican Governors Association that labels him a socialist, arguing that the ad is “outright false and misleading.”
James J. Temple Jr., an attorney for the Friends of Ben Jealous campaign, sent a letter to WJZ, WMAR, WBFF and WBAL on Thursday saying that the stations “should cease airing this false advertisement immediately” to remain compliant with Federal Communications Commission licensing requirements.
“It is unmistakable that the Republican Governors Association advertisement is both outright false and misleading to your viewers,” Temple’s letter said. “The Republican Governors Association in this advertisement uses selective editing techniques to make the false claim that Mr. Jealous is a socialist, despite clear and repeated evidence to the contrary.”
None of the television stations immediately returned a call seeking comment.
The advertisement, titled “Too Extreme,” is one of several RGA spots attacking Jealous that have aired since last month in Baltimore and its suburbs, a region that will play a critical role in Jealous’s bid to unseat Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
Neither the Jealous campaign, which has about $8 million less than Hogan, according to the most recent campaign finance reports, nor the Democratic Governors Association, has aired ads in the general election campaign.
The RGA ad uses a portion of a comment Jealous made during an appearance on MSNBC the day after his primary win in which he said: “Go ahead, call me a socialist. That doesn’t change the fact I’m a venture capitalist.”
Jealous has never called himself a socialist, but the ad quotes only the first part of his statement: “Go ahead, call me a socialist.”
Earlier this week, he dismissed the criticism as “name calling” and cited past examples of the term being used to discredit African American leaders. He also drew headlines for using profanity to deny that he was a socialist.
The RGA is standing by its ad.
“The request from Ben Jealous fails to point to a single sentence, clause, phrase or word in the advertisement that is false,” spokesman Jon Thompson said in an email. “Furthermore, Ben Jealous’ words are his own words.”
Earlier versions of this article gave the wrong first name for James J. Temple Jr., attorney for the Friends of Ben Jealous campaign.