PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A new TV ad by Republican congressional candidate Brendan Doherty attacks incumbent Rep. David Cicilline as untrustworthy, continuing an assault on the Democrat for his record as mayor of Providence, which he led from 2002 until 2010. Cicilline’s campaign shot back that Doherty was going negative and called him a ‘‘Romney Republican’’ — a now-familiar refrain from the Cicilline campaign as it has tried to associate Doherty with Republican positions that are unpopular in Rhode Island.
The ad, which began airing Monday, features comments from unidentified Doherty supporters who speak about financial problems in Providence under Cicilline’s watch. Cicilline said in 2010 that the city was in excellent financial condition, but later it was revealed the city had a $110 million deficit.
‘‘We got lies from David Cicilline,’’ one man says, adding later: ‘‘I can’t trust David Cicilline to do what’s needed in Washington.’’
Cicilline campaign manager Eric Hyers responded to the ad that the election offered a choice between a Democrat who supports policies of President Barack Obama and a Republican who supports Mitt Romney.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Rhode Island more than 3-to-1, and Obama is well liked.
Marc Genest, a political strategist who has followed Rhode Island politics for three decades, said the way many Republicans get elected in the Democratic stronghold is to show their opponent is corrupt or ineffectual. That is the strategy Doherty is pursuing, he said.
‘‘Because traditional Republican values do not play well in this state, the more he can focus the campaign on why Cicilline doesn’t deserve voters’ support, the more of a chance he has,’’ Genest said.
Cicilline last week began airing his own TV ad that showed video of Doherty saying Romney would be ‘‘fantastic for Rhode Island.’’
Wendy Schiller, a professor of political science at Brown University, said Doherty must show to voters why he would be more effective in Congress than Cicilline.
‘‘He’s not going to win this race by attacking David Cicilline,’’ she said. ‘‘He’s only going to win this race if people decide he’s going to be a better congressperson.’’
One of the claims in the new Doherty ad is not accurate. An unidentified woman claims, ‘‘we have 2,000 teachers that were laid off.’’
That is a reference to a move made by the school board under Cicilline’s successor, current Mayor Angel Taveras, to send notices to all city teachers last year that they could be fired at the end of the school year, a move made as officials dealt with a budget deficit estimated at $40 million. The notices were not layoffs, and ultimately only a small percentage of the city’s nearly 2,000 teachers lost their jobs.
Cicilline’s ad last week made a claim disputed by the Doherty campaign that Doherty wants to repeal Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Doherty’s campaign says the candidate wants to replace it with a better system and would oppose repeal if there was no better alternative.