Editors' Pick

Biggest Campaign Oops

Donald Trump is politically toxic in most of Montgomery County, which he lost in 2016 by almost a 4-1 margin. So, in the 2018 Democratic primary for county executive, Councilmember Roger Berliner hoped to deliver a knockout blow with a bare-knuckle TV ad linking Trump to another wealthy businessman making his first run for elected office: Berliner rival David Blair. But the ad—which featured Blair’s face morphing into Trump’s as an announcer called Blair “another rich guy with zero government experience spending his millions to buy this election”—backfired. Even many of those who weren’t supporting Blair considered it unfair, and one longtime Berliner supporter asked for her $3,000 contribution back, telling The Washington Post the ad was an attack on all businesspeople. The blowback prompted Berliner to revise the ad to remove the morphing, even as he defended the comparison as “completely valid.” But he also acknowledged, “We made this change because the reaction to the Trump image was so intense that it began to distract from our main charge that David Blair is unqualified to be county executive.” For Berliner, once perceived as the leading alternative to the perceived front-runner, fellow Councilmember Marc Elrich, the flap capped a series of setbacks. Berliner ended up fourth in the six-candidate field.