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John King Hits Digital Airwaves, Parrying GOP Attacks on Critical Race Theory

Former U.S. Education Secretary John King, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, chats outside the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference in Ocean City. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Republican strategists believe they have hit on a winning issue by attacking Democrats over the specter of “critical race theory” being taught in the public schools. The tactic certainly seemed to help Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) in Virginia this year — and some Democrats are trying to shy away from the discussion.

But John B. King Jr., one of the eight Democrats running for governor of Maryland in 2022, is leaning into the debate. King is launching a digital ad Monday that directly addresses the subject.

The 60-second ad, called “Truth,” opens with video clips of Tucker Carlson and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) breathing fire on critical race theory. King then comes on screen, saying, “Some far-right politicians are trying to erase my story.”

King goes on to describe how his ancestors were enslaved in Gaithersburg, and the ad shows footage of him visiting the cabin where they lived. He then observes, “The truth is today’s gaps in health, wealth and criminal justice are tied to the history of slavery, segregation and redlining.”

But the ad then takes a more upbeat tone, noting how despite King’s family’s heritage, he went on to become “Education secretary for the first Black president,” as pictures of King with President Obama come on screen.

“We’re strong enough to acknowledge injustice and see the power of progress,” King says.

He then talks a little bit more about his history as an educator and the teachers “who saved my life” after both of his parents died when he was young.

“There couldn’t be a better time to have an educator as governor, and that’s our truth,” King concludes.

In addition to serving as a biographical spot that introduces King to voters, the ad also serves to highlight his educational bonafides and argue that King is the candidate best positioned to answer conservatives’ attacks around education and “Critical Race Theory” — a quality he argues is important following Democratic losses in Virginia this year.

King’s campaign has made a six-figure buy to air the ad on social media and other digital platforms. It will run statewide but target likely Democratic primary voters.

King’s campaign says he is the first candidate to begin airing ads statewide. Author and former foundation CEO Wes Moore began airing radio spots targeting Black voters in the Washington, D.C., market last month. The Democratic primary is on June 28.

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John King Hits Digital Airwaves, Parrying GOP Attacks on Critical Race Theory