Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Hans Riemer TV ad makes closing argument he is the "Best Guy" for Montgomery County Executive

Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D - At Large) is launching an ad blitz on cable, streaming services, and - tomorrow - broadcast television, to make the closing argument that he is the "best guy" to serve as Montgomery County Executive. Interspersed with scenes of Riemer with family and meeting constituents around the county, the ad takes some sharp swipes at his opponents in the July 19 Democratic primary, businessman David Blair and incumbent County Executive Marc Elrich.

"Blair's tryin' to buy it," the narrator says over an image of a business-suited Blair, who has spent record amounts of his own money in his two campaigns for the executive seat. According to The Washington Post, Blair has spent $2.5 million on this year's campaign, and dropped $5.4 million in his 2018 run in which he lost to Elrich by only 77 votes. The most expensive County-level campaigns in history earn him a "Rich Guy Blair" moniker in Riemer's ad.

"Current Guy" Elrich let bars stay open late, while schools were forced to stay closed, the ad recalls from recent pandemic history. The spot hones in on education issues through the narrative that Riemer is the only executive candidate with children in County public schools, that he will support univeral pre-K. Riemer will keep schools open, the narrator promises, while providing mental health services to address the widely-acknowledged impact of the pandemic and closures on children. Elrich is also criticized in the ad for blocking forced vaccinations for County employees.

Riemer, the ad concludes, is the "Best Guy" for the job. "Good thing we've got Hans Riemer," the narrator states, as a quote from the Post is superimposed on the screen citing Riemer as a "principled...progressive leader."

The Post, as many expected, once again endorsed Blair. But its endorsement editorial was also effusive in praise of Riemer, and notably did not criticize him, weakening its argument for Blair in the context that both men are neck-and-neck in what little polling has been done. The Post has had incredible sway over Democratic voters since it was purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos; prior to Bezos' acquisition, voters had often ignored the Post's endorsements. While the harshly anti-labor editorial board's Ahab-like pursuit of its nemesis Elrich fell short in 2018, the razor-thin margin again showed the grip the Post now has on many voters. When the Post editorial board says, "Jump!" a surprising number of voters these days ask, "How high?"

Along with the question of the Post's influence on the election result will be the impact of Republican and independent voters who plan to vote in this Democratic primary. An informal movement in 2018 has become more organized in 2022, and has been given a push by backers of Blair, a former Republican himself. Switch to the Democratic Party for July, then switch back to GOP or independent affiliation in August, voters are being told online. The suggestion has been appealing this time around for many public and private school parents furious over pandemic school closures, and County interference in the operations of private schools during that period.

Polling has suggested these party-switching voters are currently splitting their vote between Blair and Riemer. Elrich - the most popular politician in Montgomery County by total votes over the years - appears to be retaining his base of progressives and residents concerned about the overwhelming influence of developers on County zoning and planning decisions, such as the controversial Thrive 2050 plan, which would allow replacement of single-family houses with duplexes, triplexes and small apartment buildings.

The ad buy is critical for Riemer. Blair has been hitting the local TV airwaves hard for several weeks. Riemer's campaign feels it is in a good position to respond now, with a $1 million fundraising haul comprised of small donors and corresponding public financing.

“Our campaign plan is right on schedule. I’m confident that voters will pick Hans when introduced to him in what’s clearly a three way race,“ Riemer campaign manager Aziz Yakub said in a statement. “David Blair has $6 million and Marc Elrich has insider special interest groups. We have people power and motivated voters, and that will matter most on July 19th.” Upcounty businessman Peter James is also running in the Democratic primary. Early voting begins July 7.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative article, thank you. It seems like someone new would be a good choice for the Executive position, Blair seems like a good choice. I personally would not read the Washington Post editorial endorsements.I'm surprised that you say progressives support Elrich because he's opposed to replacing single family homes with apartments, I would think progressives would be all for that sort of terrible idea.