Business and Labor Titans Take Up a Common Cause: Support for Slots

By Annapolis Notebook
Sunday, May 4, 2008

The effort to legalize slots in Maryland got a boost from business and labor heavyweights last week: the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO.

Support for the November ballot question was expected from the 850-member business group and the union. But the chamber's board of directors voted formally to endorse the referendum and the coalition organizing to get it passed, and Friday, Fred Maso n, president of the Maryland and District chapter of the AFL-CIO, said that up to 15,000 slots parlors could create thousands of new jobs.

The Maryland Association of Counties and the state teachers association have also endorsed the referendum.

Chamber spokesman Will Burns said the group has made no decisions on whether it will financially back the pro-slots campaign. But at a minimum, the chamber will be active in the grass-roots campaign to pass slots "and let people know what the alternatives are," he said.

"If the referendum fails, we expect more budget cuts, higher taxes or a combination of both," Burns said.

Mason said in a statement that Maryland is losing revenue to neighboring states with slots and that gambling money would help secure education needs.

The union endorsement was quickly denounced by Marylanders United to Stop Slots, whose chairman, Charles Graha m, said expanded gambling would make a slumping economy worse by luring struggling families to play and lose.

-- Lisa Rein

Holiday Season Arrives for Republican Party

The Maryland Republicans' season of Lincoln and Reagan days dinners is in full swing, featuring an array of past (and perhaps future) party standard-bearers -- as well as a few celebrities.

Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the Maryland GOP candidate for governor in 1994 and 1998, gets top billing May 18 at the Annual Lincoln Day Dinner in Howard County.

Former lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele was booked as the guest speaker at last night's annual Reagan Day Dinner in Queen Anne's County. Steele is chairman of GOPAC, a national candidate recruiting organization, and among those mentioned as a possible challenger to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in 2010.

Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. is headlining Garrett County's annual Lincoln Day Dinner on June 6. Ehrlich is also scheduled to appear May 29 as master of ceremonies at the annual chicken dinner hosted by the Republican Club of Northeast Baltimore County.

With the help of a radio show on Baltimore's WBAL (1090 AM), Ehrlich has remained remarkably visible since his 2006 defeat by O'Malley, leading to speculation that he might seek a rematch in 2010.

The Prince George's County Republican Party has tapped former White House press secretary Tony Snow as the guest speaker at its annual Lincoln Day Dinner on May 14. And Mike Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is scheduled to appear in Anne Arundel County on May 29 for its annual Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner.

-- John Wagner

Senator's Aide Named Director of State GOP

The Maryland Republican Party tapped Justin Ready, an aide to Sen. Janet Greenip (R-Anne Arundel), last week as its new executive director.

Ready succeeds John Flynn, who has taken a job as staff attorney for Americans for Prosperity, a D.C.-based group that promotes limited government.

Party Chairman James Pelura said Ready, 26, was chosen from more than a dozen applicants. His selection comes as the party is working to repair its finances, after fundraising dried up following Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s loss to Martin O'Malley (D) in 2006.

Pelura said the party has paid $65,000 of a $100,000 line of credit it took out to cover debts. He said he hopes to have everything paid off by midsummer.

"Our thrust is to get our debts paid off," he said. "Then we can start working on [the election of] 2010."

-- Lisa Rein

Democrats Name 'Add-On' Superdelegates

The Maryland Democratic Party chose former governor Parris N. Glendening and former lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend yesterday as "add-on" delegates who will get a vote in the party's presidential nomination. The two are in addition to the state's 27 Democratic superdelegates. Townsend is a supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), and Glendening supports Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

-- Associated Press

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