Pro-Slots Group Is Sailing On

By Lori Montgomery and Elissa Silverman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 3, 2006

The St. Croix folks who have promoted gambling in the District have moved. And they're taking their slots campaign with them.

Yes, Shawn Scott , Rob Newell and the rest of the gang from Bridge Capital LLC, the cash cow behind the 2004 drive to legalize gambling in the nation's capital, have decamped halfway around the world to the Northern Mariana Islands, where the company is eligible for a bevy of economic development tax breaks.

"We are very excited about coming to Saipan and launching our Asian financial business from here," Scott told island officials in December, according to Marianas Variety Online.

Not long after Bridge Capital put down roots there, Scott's partner, John K. Baldwin, formed GG Acquisitions II and purchased a greyhound track on the nearby island of Guam, according to the Pacific Daily News. Now the company is paying $5 for every signature collected in support of a referendum to legalize slot machines at the track, the Daily News reports.

Gambling opponents are challenging the campaign, which has until Monday to obtain signatures from 4,959 registered Guam voters, the number needed to win a spot on the November ballot.

Meanwhile, a revived slots campaign here in the District seems to be lagging since slots supporters acknowledged last month that they did not have enough signatures to qualify for this year's ballot. DCWatch director Dorothy Brizill reports that petition circulators from out of town appear to have vanished. But Scott and the boys have until December to finish the job for the next citywide election, scheduled for 2008.

This One's for the Girls

Sandy Allen wants to be the Betty Friedan of the D.C. Council.

The former Ward 8 council member, anticipating the departure of several key female legislators following the Sept. 12 Democratic primary, is mulling a run for an at-large seat in November's general election as the "feminist" alternative to David A. Catania (I-At Large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).

"There will be no women," said Allen, who was defeated by Marion Barry in 2004.

Correction: It's possible there will be no black women on the council come 2007. Chairman Linda W. Cropp and Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) are giving up their seats to run for higher office, and Sharon Ambrose (D-Ward 6) is retiring. But Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) will keep the council's feminine mystique alive.

Allen said she's thinking she might run as an independent. That means she would go head to head against Catania, her "best friend," as she put it, and one of her closest allies on the council. (In the general election, voters have the opportunity to select two at-large candidates.)

Catania had no comment on his pal's potential challenge.

"David called me; we never finished our conversation," said Allen, who also said she is "praying on it" and will decide soon.

Cobb Dusts Himself Off

Ward 6 council hopeful Will Cobb probably has Aug. 30 highlighted on his calendar. That's the last day to file nominating petitions for the November ballot.

Cobb has waged a vigorous campaign for the council seat being vacating by Sharon Ambrose, knocking on doors and holding meet-and-greets. But he plumb forgot about the July 5 deadline to turn in signatures to qualify for a spot on the Sept. 12 Democratic ballot, leaving him clutching 560 suddenly useless John Hancocks.

Cobb tried to persuade the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to give him a second chance, but the board held firm.

So last month, before a crowd of 40 gathered at New York Pizza on Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Cobb relaunched his campaign, this time as an independent. He said his misstep wound up being a rallying point rather than a disappointment to his supporters.

"It's just a great vehicle for getting our message out there," said Cobb, who hopes to face the winner of the Democratic primary as well as Republican contender Tony Williams (no, not that Tony Williams) on Nov. 7.

The extra months of campaigning will no doubt be helpful, as Cobb and his campaign volunteers need time to white-out "September 12" and "Democrat" from his campaign signs.

Call for Pendleton's Ouster

In other news about involuntary independents, shadow senator candidate Philip Pannell is calling on his chief rival, incumbent Florence Pendleton (D), to resign.

Pannell, you may recall, got Pendleton knocked off the Democratic ballot by challenging her nominating petitions. Pendleton needed 2,000 signatures, but only 1,559 turned out to be valid.

Pendleton responded by announcing a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination. But should that fail, she also picked up petitions to run as an independent in November.

In an e-mail statement, Pannell charged this week that "since Senator Pendleton has left the Democratic Party, she should also leave her position."

On Closer Examination . . .

Whoops. Ward 3 council hopeful Robert Gordon recently claimed to have the endorsement of the Northwest Current, the ubiquitous free weekly that reaches more than 30,000 readers. But editor and publisher Davis Kennedy said Gordon should have read that editorial a little more carefully.

What it said was that Gordon and rival Mary Cheh "stood out among all the other candidates" in the crowded race to replace council member Kathy Patterson, Kennedy said. But then it went on to note that Cheh has a better grasp on citywide issues, leading the paper to "lean slightly for Ms. Cheh."

Kennedy said Gordon apologized for the mix-up. But he's not the only one apologizing in Ward 3.

In a separate incident, Cheh sent out a statement expressing regret for potentially misleading statements in a brochure distributed to about 15,000 people.

"A recent mailing from my campaign included quotes from people who were identified with their institutional affiliations. There was no attempt to suggest that these were endorsements from the institutions themselves," Cheh said in the statement.

The offending quotes came from Howard Nelson , executive director of the Washington Humane Society; Nan Aron , executive director of the Alliance for Justice; and Renee DeVigne , associate dean of student affairs at George Washington University Law School.

Cheh said she put out the clarification because nonprofit organizations are not supposed to get involved with politics, and she didn't want to "cause them any grief." Staff writer Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.

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