The Washington Post

O’Malley plugs Md. ballot measures in Monday appearances in Baltimore

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, center, speaks at a news conference in Baltimore, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in front of supporters of a ballot question that, if passed, would allow same-sex marriage in the state. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) urged support for ballot measures on expanded gambling and same-sex marriage in back-to-back news conferences Monday morning in Baltimore, underscoring how much he has at stake on Election Day.

O’Malley, who is scheduled to appear later Monday at a rally in College Park for the state’s same-sex marriage measure, has also cut a new ad for the campaign to pass Maryland’s version of the Dream Act, which would allow in-state college tuition rates for undocumented immigrant students if certain conditions are met.

All three measures are among those on Maryland’s busy ballot on Tuesday, and O’Malley has strongly advocated passage of all three. He is also supporting the state’s redrawn congressional map, which voters are being asked to affirm or reject.

O’Malley arrived at a news conference on the expanded gambling measure in a playful mood, singing the lyrics of a song featured in a television ad by proponents of Question 7. The lyrics, set to the melody of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” make the case that passage of Question 7 will deter Marylanders from gambling out of state.

The governor repeated the lyrics as he took the microphone at the news conference at the Inner Harbor that also featured Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).

“Maryland cash, bring it back into the place where it belongs,” O’Malley said. “Not West Virginia. Don’t let ‘em spin ya. Maryland cash, bring it back.”

Question 7 would allow a new Las Vegas-style casino in Prince George’s County, as well as table games, such as blackjack and roulette, at Maryland’s five previously designated slots sites. Table games are already legal in the surrounding states of Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The chief opponent of the plan has been Penn National Gaming, which owns a casino in Charles Town, W.Va., that analysts say would take a financial hit if another large-scale gambling venue opens in Maryland.

Opponents have sought to undermine claims that the gambling expansion would benefit education and create thousands of jobs.

During his remarks, O’Malley raised the possibility that lawmakers would have to raise taxes to meet future education spending targets if the gambling measure fails.

The mood was more serious 15 minutes later as O’Malley appeared with other advocates of same-sex marriage, including Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) in Federal Hill Park.

O’Malley urged passage of Question 6, saying it would “protect every child’s home equally under the law.”

Opponents of the measure have argued that the state does not need to redefine marriage to protect the rights of gay couples. Last week, they staged a rally featuring 75 religious leaders opposed to Question 6.

Other speakers at O’Malley’s news conference included some African-American religious and civil rights leaders.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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