Edwards hits Van Hollen with first televised attack ad

Rebecca Rainey, Correspondent

WASHINGTON — With just three weeks before the Maryland Senate primary, Rep. Donna Edwards used her first campaign television ad to attack her main rival, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, over his record in office.

In the ad, which started airing Tuesday, Edwards poses the same charges used during the last Senate debate with Van Hollen on March 29.

“I said ‘no’ to the Social Security cuts Chris Van Hollen said he’d consider,” Edwards says in the ad.

The same ad also claims Van Hollen took campaign money from Wall Street banks and “backed down” on issues with the National Rifle Association.

Van Hollen struck back, holding a news conference in Kensington Tuesday with Attorney General Brian Frosh, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and state Sen. Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City, to refute Edwards.

Townsend accused Edwards of refusing to run “an honest campaign.”

“At every turn, she has attacked Chris Van Hollen on Social Security, misleading voters with no concern for the facts,” Townsend said.

Van Hollen also responded to the ad, saying, “Maryland voters deserve better than a campaign based on misinformation and scare tactics.”

The congressman said he has defended Social Security in negotiations, has opposed the NRA and supported tougher gun laws and did not take money from bank PAC’s.

The Edwards ad comes amid two new polls showing a close race.

The first survey, released Friday by the Van Hollen campaign and conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang, showing him with a 5-point lead over Edwards, 45 percent to 40 percent.

The second poll, released Sunday and conducted by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland, showed Edwards with a 4-point margin, 44 percent to 40 percent.

“Donna’s leading in the polls because she’s championing the values of Maryland’s working families and taking on the Washington special interests holding them back,” said Edwards campaign spokesman Benjamin Gerdes.

The Edwards campaign announced a weeklong Baltimore television ad buy of over $156,000, starting Tuesday, but had already released a first ad titled “Bat” online.

The ad tells the story of “Denise,” a constituent with multiple sclerosis that Edwards helped to receive her retirement benefits. The ad includes statistics on constituent cases and money that the Edwards office says it saved in 2015.

The ad is meant to address Van Hollen’s recent criticism of Edwards’ constituent services.

“Congresswoman Edwards has not been there for (constituents). Many of them have been calling our offices when they don’t get that support,” Van Hollen charged during a debate hosted by ABC7 on March 29. “When they walk into her office she has not been there for them.”

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