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July 26, 2010

Slots referendum: Does Ehrlich or O'Malley gain?

Does the court-ordered referendum on the billion-dollar Arundel Mills casino help Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley or Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.?

It depends on who you ask, Baltimore Sun colleague Annie Linskey reports:

O'Malley, who supports the referendum, hopes his opposition to a casino at Arundel Mills will help him peel off like-minded Republicans in the large and growing county who supported Ehrlich in the past two elections. His campaign plans to stress Ehrlich's role in helping to bring slots to the mall, feeding the larger narrative they are working to construct: Ehrlich as lobbyist for special interests.

"It is important that the people of Anne Arundel County are heard on this," O'Malley said. "If I lived in northern Anne Arundel County, I would rather see the slots location go to a racetrack" — a reference to Laurel Park — "rather than a mall in a residential neighborhood."

But Ehrlich's camp says the debate cuts two ways. Aides to the former governor say the referendum is Exhibit A of O'Malley's foundering slots program; they say the issue will remind voters that the state is still waiting for the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue expected from the five casinos approved two years ago.

"There is a recognition that the state has failed," said Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell. "Bob Ehrlich supported slots seven years ago. The only people making money off slots are the lobbyists and the slot machine manufacturers."

Read more about the political impact of the Arundel Mills slots referendum at

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 5:00 AM | | Comments (0)

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

Paul West reports from Washington for The Baltimore Sun. He's covered Congress, the White House and presidential campaigns as the paper's national political correspondent and DC bureau chief. He is on the lookout for news about activities at the other end of the B/W Parkway, the state's congressional delegation and 2010 election contests.

Julie Bykowicz has been a reporter at The Baltimore Sun for 10 years. At the paper, she previously focused on criminal justice, juvenile services and legal matters. Julie is now on the state campaign trail, tracking the governor’s race and other major matchups. She lives in Baltimore.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.

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