- The Washington Times - Friday, August 30, 2002


U.S. Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. aired his first campaign television ad yesterday morning in an effort to improve his name recognition in the Washington suburbs.

The Washington-area ad portrays him as "a different kind of Republican," one that even Democrats could love.

The 30-second spot highlights Mr. Ehrlich's working-class upbringing and portrays him as a centrist politician who is well-liked by Democrats.

The ad allies Mr. Ehrlich with Rep. Constance A. Morella, a fellow Republican whose liberal voting record on some issues, polls show, has garnered her support of Montgomery County Democrats. Statewide, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 ratio.

The ad also shows Mr. Ehrlich attending a children's soccer game in Rockville and stumping with his running mate, Michael S. Steele, at the Silver Spring Metro station.

The footage also shows Mr. Ehrlich promising to build the proposed Intercounty Connector between Montgomery and Prince George's counties and to "fix the budget mess with honest accounting," a reference to a projected shortfall in the state's budget next year.

It describes Mr. Ehrlich as "pro-choice," although he sometimes has voted with pro-life advocates in Congress.

Montgomery County is crucial to Mr. Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a Democrat, as they campaign to become Maryland's next governor. A sixth of the people who voted in the 1998 gubernatorial election live in Montgomery County, which is home to more independent voters than anywhere else in the state.

While Mrs. Townsend enjoys broad support there, many voters in Montgomery know little about Mr. Ehrlich, who hails from Baltimore County. The ad, he hopes, will help change that.

"Our name recognition in the Baltimore market is extremely high," said Paul E. Schurick, a campaign spokesman. "Our name recognition in the Washington market needs to improve."

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