Gubernatorial Face-Off: Bob Ehrlich (Part 4 of 4)
Patch asks the questions that you, Patch readers, want answered and fact checks the candidates' claims.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This video is from the final set of four we are posting before the Nov. 2 General Election. Both Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and his Republican rival, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.,agreed to sit down with us to answer questions from Patch readers, but Ehrlich had to cancel his session. That's why the quality of the two videos differs. We did our best to reschedule with Ehrlich but ultimately had to settle for a less intimate setting.
In this video, Ehrlich talks about slot machines in Maryland. He criticized O'Malley for the problematic and slow rollout of slots since voters approved the devices in the 2008 election as a way to help the state deal with its budget woes.
O'Malley has said the process of picking viable operators occurred at the very time the national credit markets began to freeze up, making it difficult for several bidders to get the financing they needed to support their proposals.
Claim: "We have two venues without a bidder, we have a small venue in Ocean City owned by the guy who owns the monopoly in Delaware and we have a referendum in Anne Arundel County," Ehrlich said. "This has been Martin O'Malley's spectacular failure."
Facts: Since voters two years ago approved slots in Maryland in five locations across the state, two venues still do not have qualified bidders and voters on Nov. 2 may vote to kill the Arundel Mills mall location. The Perryville location in Cecil County is the only slots parlor to open. The site at Ocean Downs racetrack is owned by the operator of Delaware Park in Delaware, a slots destination that has long benefitted from Maryland gamblers. That site's opening has been delayed.
Claim: "Rosecroft today is shuttered. Standardbred [horses] are almost done in Maryland. Rosecroft, with a standardbred program, a simulcast signal and a card room — and that bill passed the Senate last year — that's 2,000 jobs. That should be a no-brainer."
Facts: The state Senate did pass such a measure this year, but it died in the House of Delegates. O'Malley does not support table games in Maryland, and he said he believes state voters agree with him.
Claim: "[O'Malley is] now campaigning against a bill that he thought of, that he drafted and he passed and he lobbied for. It wouldn't be at Arundel Mills but for Martin O'Malley. It was his bill."
Facts: To get slots approved, something that Ehrlich couldn't do when he was governor, O'Malley pushed for and won approval of a referendum to let voters decide. In 2008, the voters approved slot machine gambling in the five venues that the referendum legislation spelled out. The process of picking locations, supported by O'Malley, was responsible for the Arundel Mills site.
Claim: "Martin O'Malley has been supported by Penn National big time."
Facts: Penn National operates the Perryville slots parlor, the only facility that has opened in Maryland since the voters approved slot machine gambling two years ago.
Penn National has been lobbying against the Arundel Mills mall slots parlor. The company and its political action committee have given a total of $16,000 to O'Malley's re-election campaign and more than $100,000 to No Slots At The Mall.