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Election 2022

Political Notes: New Ads for Governor and AG, GOP Surrogates Helping Out, AFSCME’s Long List

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez (D) at the 2021 J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

A new 30-second ad touting former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez in the Democratic primary for governor began airing on Baltimore TV stations Friday. Only it wasn’t made or paid for by Perez’s campaign.

The authority line at the end of the ad says it was paid for by Maryland Opportunity Inc., a political action committee that registered with the Maryland State Board of Elections earlier this spring.

Little is known about the people behind it. In the board of elections filing, the committee chair is listed as Selena Lewis. The treasurer is Sabrina Neal, who happens to be an officer with the Service Employees International Union. That isn’t surprising, as unions form the backbone of Perez’s support in the 10-candidate primary.

After conversations Friday with half a dozen labor leaders and Democratic strategists (the Perez campaign cannot coordinate with this independent expenditure effort), it seems likely that at least some unions are involved in Maryland Opportunity Inc., along with other Perez supporters who have already reached the limit in donations they can make directly to Perez’s campaign.

We’ll know soon enough — the latest campaign finance reports are due at the board of elections by midnight on June 14.

The ad itself largely borrows from The Washington Post’s recent effusive endorsement of Perez (for the record, the paper over the weekend endorsed former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz in the Republican primary).

A narrator reads key lines from the endorsement, including, “Few would enter the governor’s office so well prepared.”

The ad then switches to a clip of President Obama talking about Perez near the end of his presidency.

“He’s produced. If you look at his body of work on behalf of working people, he has been extraordinary.”

The narrator then gives the Post the last word: “Tom Perez would make an outstanding governor.”

Bringing the fight to the AG race 

Both candidates in the Democratic primary for attorney general appear to have taken the campaign to the airwaves — or at least to video, in one case. Both ads call the candidates fighters.

Former Baltimore City Judge Katie Curran O’Malley debuted a 30-second spot Friday that, according to the campaign, is airing on cable in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., markets.

The ad opens with two individuals blowing air horns, sounding the alarm about potential threats at the national level to abortion rights and Marylanders’ right to vote. It then mostly features O’Malley talking to the camera, vowing to defend those rights.

“I’m the only candidate in this race with 30 years of experience working in Maryland’s legal system,” she says. “And I know that if we don’t stand up for what we believe in, like protecting a woman’s right to choose and everyone’s right to vote, we risk losing the things we value most.”

Meanwhile, Brown is out with a 30-second video that so far appears to only be airing on his digital platforms.

The ad features several photos of Brown and quotes from various people and organizations about Brown.

“Anthony Brown’s been called a fighter who won’t back down,” a female narrator says as the ad opens.

The next frame shows Brown shaking hands with President Biden and flashes a quote from Biden across the screen that says, “Anthony is going to be a hell of an attorney general.”

(That’s a quote from a White House readout of remarks that Biden made at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at Maryland Congressman David Trone’s Potomac home last month. But Time magazine political reporter Eric Cortellessa reported Saturday on Twitter that this was not meant to be an endorsement.)

Eventually the ad features a picture of Brown with President Obama and flashes on an Obama quote from a 2014 campaign rally about Brown.

The ad ends with the narrator saying, “Anthony Brown, a fighter for the people.”

Is there a doctor in the House?

Remember Ronny Jackson, the White House physician under Obama and President Trump who attracted countless negative headlines after Trump nominated him to be secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2018?

Jackson had to withdraw his nomination, but he’s now a Republican congressman from Texas, and he’s headlining a fundraiser Monday evening for Nicolee Ambrose, Maryland’s Republican National Committeewoman and one of several Republicans seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) in the fall.

The event is taking place at 1623 Brewing Co. in Eldersburg.

Speaking of Republican fundraising events this week, Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) is headlining a fundraiser Wednesday evening for state Sen. Michael Hough, the Republican candidate for county executive in Frederick County. That’s taking place at the Musket Ridge Golf Club in Myersville.

Around the same time Wednesday evening, former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, Hogan’s choice to succeed him as governor, is the top draw at a fundraiser for Del. Sid Saab (R-Anne Arundel), who is running for the state Senate in District 33. Saab is aiming to replace retiring Sen. Ed Reilly (R), who is also scheduled to appear at the event at American Legion Post 175 in Severna Park.

The 33rd District — partially organically and partially through Democratic redistricting efforts — now appears to be a tossup district after decades as a Republican stronghold. Saab will face attorney Dawn Gile (D) in November.

AFSCME endorsements

AFSCME Maryland Council 3, Council 67 and Local 2250, put out a final and exhaustive list of their endorsements for the upcoming primaries on Friday, including for congressional races, legislative races, and races for local office.

The government workers’ unions had already announced endorsements in key statewide races — Perez for governor, Brown for attorney general, and Del. Brooke Lierman (D-Baltimore City) for state comptroller.

The updated list — which has yet to be posted online (we’ll provide a link when it is) — unsurprisingly includes endorsements for several incumbents seeking re-election. But it also includes a few surprises and/or tough choices in open-seat races. Among the most noteworthy:

  • Endorsing former Rep. Donna Edwards (D) in the 4th District congressional race to replace Brown;
  • Endorsing a Republican, Del. Michael McKay (R-Allegany) in the 1st District Senate race to replace retiring Republican Sen. George Edwards (Baltimore County Councilmember David Marks, who is seeking a third term, is the only other Republican on the long endorsement list);
  • Endorsing Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick), Del. Ben Brooks (D-Baltimore County) and former Del. Mary-Dulany James (D-Harford) for open-seat Senate races in their respective jurisdictions);
  • Endorsing bus driver and union activist Clint Sobratti over Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery) in District 39;
  • Endorsing minister Jeff Long for a House seat over appointed Del. Rachel Jones (D-Calvert); and
  • Endorsing a handful of other House candidates who are running without the endorsements of their districts’ state senators or other powerful leaders.

“This election year is an extraordinary one for Maryland’s public employees,” said AFSCME Council President Patrick Moran. “Beginning next year we will have a new governor, a new state comptroller, and a new attorney general, as well as many new senators and delegates. The opportunity to vote in new leadership for Maryland on this scale is unprecedented.”