Negative campaigning ratchets up in 2nd District GOP primary

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By Glynis Kazanjian

Larry Smith

Larry Smith

Second Congressional District candidate Larry Smith is calling on rival state Sen. Nancy Jacobs to apologize for going negative in the Republican primary campaign, despite a series of robocalls from Smith falsely stating Jacobs voted for “all” of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s budget bills, when she hadn’t.

After several robocalls by Smith and a separate mailing by another District 2 challenger, Del. Rick Impallaria (R), Jacob’s husband sent a letter to constituents stating Jacob’s “opponents” had mischaracterized her voting records and distorted the truth.

“She vowed to never to run a negative campaign and she has never broken that promise,” Bruce Jacobs wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of those who oppose her in this race. They have attempted to paint her in an unfavorable light through an aggressive series of negative phone calls full of misleading distortions and hate. . . When the robo calls and mailers are over, ask yourself: Who do you trust to represent you and your family in Washington?”

Robocalls attack Jacobs

Smith’s campaign sponsored three robocalls that directly attacked Jacobs. Impallaria’s mailer criticized Jacobs for passing a “phony” Jessica’s Law bill, and for supporting state budgets that drove up state debt and taxes. The mailer pictured Jacobs with President Obama, Gov. O’Malley and District 2 Democratic incumbent Dutch Ruppersberger for her support of an earlier version of the Dream Act for immigrant tuition, Impallaria says.

Both Imparallaria and Smith responded to Jacob’s letter with written statements. Smith called Jacobs a “liar” and asked for details to back up the distortion and mischaracterization comments, and he wrote he looked forward to an apology. Impallaria referred to the statement as “despicable” and said Jacobs was misrepresenting the facts. He denied making any robocalls and said if she was speaking the truth she needed to back up her statements with facts or otherwise explain herself.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs

Sen. Nancy Jacobs

Jacobs said she voted for O’Malley’s budget only once in 2007, a fact confirmed on the legislature’s website.

“I voted for one O’Malley budget,” Jacobs said. “If you think back to the Ehrlich years, the election was in 2006. O’Malley was in office 2007. The framework for the budget was done by Ehrlich. Technically it wasn’t really O’Malley’s budget.”

“I sponsored Jessica’s Law,” Jacob’s said of Impallaria’s mailer. “It wasn’t phony. I passed [another] one two years after that, we realized it left 2nd degree rapists off. They didn’t have a mandatory minimum.”

Impallaria defends criticism of Jacobs

Impallaria said he didn’t vote for the first version of Jessica’s Law because it was only a bundling of laws that already existed in the state, and it didn’t meet all of the federal requirements.

“There are different types of politicians,” Impallaria said. “Some people want their name on a bill, they don’t care what it says. With me, I think my legislation has to be good and truthful. I would vote against my own bill if they stripped everything out of it and just gave me a bill in name only.”

UPDATE: (A 2007 roll call on Jacob’s bill indicates that Impallaria voted for the bill, one of139 delegates who did in a unanimous vote.)

Smith Campaign spokesman Brett Mather said Jacobs still owes his candidate an apology for not “holding the line” when it comes to spending. His robocall also mentions a $100,000 earmark for a giraffe house.

“Senator Jacobs owes Mr. Smith an apology,” Mather wrote in an email Thursday after Maryland Reporter confirmed Jacobs voted for O’Malley’s budget only once. “Voters have a right to know that she did not hold the line on spending by her votes on an O’Malley budget in 2007 and her implicit support of O’Malley’s 2011 budget that contained the monies necessary for Senator Jacob’s $100,000 earmark for the giraffe house in Rising Sun. This campaign is about the issues, not husbands accusing opponents of ‘distortions and hate.’”

“The Plumpton Park Zoo had been shut down and the $100,000, which had to be matched by the zoo, helped to reopen the facility,” said Jacobs Chief of Staff, Suzanne Stoltenberg. “The money for bond issues is already designated in the capitol budget and is a set amount. If it hadn’t gone to this worthwhile learning center and zoo, it would have gone to another area in the state. This project is an economic development tool, bringing people to a county that needed tourist dollars. As a matter of fact, it will host the Cecil Food and Wine fest soon.”

Jacobs said she wasn’t going to get into the mud with the candidates. “It’s just negative politics.”