A Maryland health lobbyist group dove into the District 45 Senate race with a negative ad campaign against infamous political consultant Julius Henson, who is challenging Democratic veteran Sen. Nathaniel McFadden.
The radio ad and flier were paid for by the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, which wants the state tobacco tax increased from $2 to $3 to discourage teen smoking and to raise funds for other state health care programs such as Medicaid. The group praised McFadden’s public health record while criticizing Henson, who does not support the tobacco tax increase.
The health lobbyists also reference Henson’s 2010 robocall scheme to disenfranchise Black voters in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.
“Henson makes a lot of noise,” the 60-second radio ad asserts with a cacophony of marching band music, bullhorns and firework explosions as a backdrop. “But you need a Senator you can trust—one who’s on your side. And that’s Sen. Nathaniel McFadden.”
“In East Baltimore, Sen. Nathaniel McFadden has been a strong advocate for quality, affordable health care,” the ad continues. “Julius Henson is a political hired gun who got caught trying to suppress the Black vote to benefit the Republicans. Henson doesn’t support the life-saving Healthy Maryland Initiative. Why? Maybe because his campaign got some big money from a tobacco industry lobbyist.”
In a video posted on YouTube, Henson responds to the health advocate group’s criticisms and defends his stance.
“My position is I am against all taxes and fees—that includes cigarette tax. I believe if you want to tax cigararettes, don’t tax the consumer, tax the manufacturer,” he said, later adding, “My opponent has voted for every tax you can think of…bottle, bag, rain, gas tax—you name it, my opponent is for them all.”
The Health Initiative’s campaign is one more element in an already controversial contest, mostly driven by Henson, beginning with the legal wrangling to determine whether he could run for the Senate seat and his recent attack campaign against McFadden.
An ad recently released by Henson’ campaign accuses his rival of “twerking…not working” while in Annapolis.
Declaring “corruption in the corner” to the soundtrack of Con Funk Shun’s “Love’s Train,” the ad shows video from what appears to be a 2014 Senate committee hearing in which McFadden speaks to a lobbyist off-record—a common enough practice, but one which the ad tries to portray as a questionable exchange in which a “secret deal” was being brokered.
McFadden has said he refuses to defend such outlandish accusations, and that his 20-year record will speak for itself.