During playoffs, Cardin airs his first general election TV ad

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin is up with his first television ad of the general election -- a spot that begins airing during tonight's playoff game between the Orioles and the Yankees.

The ad, which plays off Cardin's reputation as a Senate workhorse, shows the senator slinging luggage onto airliners at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The ad is similar to one Cardin's campaign ran during the primary in which he was shown working as a waterman on the Chesapeake.

"By getting BWI Marshall funding for new runways, he's helping us serve 21 million passengers a year," a female narrator says as Cardin, sporting a baseball cap and orange safety vest, is shown lifting suitcases onto a Southwest plane, "which helps keep 100,000 jobs that depend on the airport."

"It's like he's out here with us," the narrator says, repeating a line used in the primary ad.

Cardin's Republican opponent, Daniel Bongino, has been on the air in Baltimore since Thursday. He purchased less airtime, but Bongino is running an ad that is a minute longer than the standard 30-second spot. It is also introductory and is similar to a web ad he released earlier in the campaign that received a positive response from his supporters. 

"I left my career with the Secret Service to take on this endless charade of insider politics because I believe in the unparallel greatness of America," Bongino says directly to the camera in his ad. "We can turn around. Will turn around. We will make our country great yet again."  

Independent Senate candidate Rob Sobhani is eclipsing the spending of both Cardin and Bongino with a series of TV ads. 

Cardin, who has enjoyed a sizable lead in polls, can afford to run a frontrunner's ad. The piece is focused on the economy and is upbeat, but it also smartly portrays the incumbent as a working stiff rather than a longtime politician. A Gonzalez poll of Maryland voters last month showed Cardin with a 28-percentage-point lead over Bongino. The poll showed Sobhani statistically tied with Bongino for second place.

The substance of the ad is based on several federal Department of Transportation grants awarded to the airport this year, including a $12 million grant Cardin and other state Democrats "announced" in July. The money is being used to resurface the runway, expand the shoulder and improve grading.

The Cardin ad is running on broadcast television in Baltimore and on cable stations throughout the state.